Blog Candidate Quality Career Changers: How & Why You Should Recruit Them
career changers


It was recently revealed that around 55.6% of people are unhappy with their job – so perhaps it is not surprising that so many people are choosing to switch careers. But while many companies are reluctant to commit to hiring career changers, recruiters and businesses actually have a great opportunity to benefit from them. 


People in this position have soft skills and a level of flexibility that can be an advantage to recruiters, and that’s not all. Here are a few reasons why and how recruitment strategies can be adapted to include these candidates. 


No experience? Look for passion

One of the major challenges for HR professionals and recruiters is that career changers don’t always have the necessary direct experience for a role. But this can also be difficult for candidates to accommodate – if businesses don’t give applicants a chance to prove themselves, how will they gain the necessary experience to move forward with their careers?


Instead, a different metric that recruiters can seek out is passion for the role and a desire to learn. If an applicant has put in the hard work to learn all they can and are driven to succeed, they often have the potential to pick up the necessary skills quickly and be an asset to the team. 


Try to understand whether this career changer is here just because they got bored with what they were doing – or if they have a genuine passion for this industry. 


A strange time for candidates and recruiters

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic is the elephant in the room for recruiters. COVID-19 has made it difficult for everyone to land a new role or grow a business, which has forced recruiters to innovate


Likewise, candidates have had to think differently about how they move forward with their careers. It’s all about maximising possibilities and making the most of the skillset they have in order to apply for new roles. 


As recruiters, it’s important to remember that the pandemic has meant that everyone has had to adapt and remain flexible, which could mean taking a chance on candidates that ordinarily wouldn’t make the shortlist. Before COVID-19, the criteria for direct experience may have been stricter but the uncertainty around the pandemic has placed more importance on flexibility than ever before. 


Career changers are often a better fit for a role than first appears and if they’re passionate, willing to adapt and have a desire to learn, now could be a great time for recruitment professionals to take a chance on them. 


Try to understand why they are changing careers

When looking at applicants, question what has caused the change in direction – what are they looking for from a role and why might they be a great fit? It’s also important to look at the skills they have that perhaps weren’t being utilised in their previous positions. 


There are plenty of inspiring stories of people who have had hugely successful career changes. There’s also evidence of people who have suffered burnout from spending years in a particular role or with a certain company, but who have come to a new industry with renewed vigour. The reasons why someone wants to switch to a new field can vary from person to person, but they aren’t always negative. 


Look for transferable skills

Every job has transferable skills, from negotiation and teamwork to customer service or communication skills. These types of skills are incredibly valuable regardless of industry. In fact, reports show that 92% of recruitment professionals value soft skills just as much as hard skills when it comes to hiring. 


A lack of soft skills is often the reason why some recruits don’t stay long-term at a business, so it’s key that recruiters think about how an applicant’s past roles may make them well-suited to the available vacancies and how their soft skills could be of use to the company in question. Career changers can bring new skills to your business that others don’t have, so it’s always worth looking beyond transferable skills to more unique skills when assessing a CV. 


Look at the environments they’ve been successful in

It is important to establish how a career changer thrives as this can teach you a lot about whether an applicant is likely to be successful. Perhaps they work best independently or maybe they’re a great team worker and work well in a thriving environment where working closely with colleagues is a major aspect of the role. 


Some candidates work better remotely and can make use of strong communication skills to make this set-up work, whereas others are happier working from a location where they can separate work and personal life more easily. The previous experience that an applicant has can really tell a recruiter how they work best and is incredibly valuable information. 


Final thoughts

There are often many synergies between a candidate’s previous experience and the new industry they’re trying to break into, even if they aren’t immediately obvious. Instead of disregarding a career changer straight away, it can be worthwhile considering how their past roles and soft skills can be of use in a new position. 


Consider the challenges your clients are facing in their business and think laterally about how career changers may be able to help. You might be surprised at how well they will fit into a new role if given the opportunity to demonstrate their passion. 

Gemma Hart

August 19, 2020

Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2016, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts.

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