Hiring Candidates With Transferable Skills

You may have an “ideal” candidate in mind for the role you’re trying to fill — but is it possible that there’s someone better?

Companies often struggle to find the talent they need, but seldom realize that they could be looking in the wrong place. The right fit for your open role may not need to have the exact skillset or industry background that you are looking for.

 What Are Transferable Skills? 

Regardless of a candidate’s specific role or field of work, they have certain skills — inherent or gained through work experience — that can be applied at other jobs or companies.

For example, a graphic designer and UI designer have completely different job roles and responsibilities. However, they are both extremely strong in basic design principles, typography, color theory and layout. With a little bit of training in UX principles and associated software tools, a graphic designer might be able to fill a job opening for a UI designer effortlessly.

Why Should You Hire Candidates With Transferable Skills ?

All candidates — even those who seem like the ideal match for the job — need to be trained on the specific tasks and processes required in your company. Candidates with transferable skills may be able to pick up your organization’s workflows just as easily as any candidate who applies with a “perfect” resume.

If you have a candidate with incredible leadership skills, problem solving abilities, time management and communication skills, why wouldn’t you want them on your team? You shouldn’t reject a high-quality candidate over skills that are teachable.

PREMIUM CONTENT: October 2023 US Jobs Report

Hiring candidates with transferable skills is not just about expanding your pipeline. If you haven’t considered this approach yet, here are three reasons why you should:

  • Everybody is on a unique career journey, and it rarely moves in a straight line. There are plenty of people looking for opportunities to shift their career, and these candidates come with an incredible drive to learn and succeed.
  • It might seem difficult to train someone who comes from an unconventional background, but a candidate with the right skillsets will be able to learn the work quickly. 
  • People from different industries can bring a fresh perspective and contribute new ideas.

 Revisiting Job Descriptions: Attracting a Larger Pool of Talent  

If you want unconventional talent to apply for roles at your company, you need to make sure your job descriptions clearly indicate that you are willing to look for talent outside the box. Here are a few tips to help attract qualified candidates with transferable skills.

Prioritize responsibilities over requirements. Instead of giving a long list of expected qualifications, tell potential candidates what they will be doing at the job. This way, candidates can envision their job better and gauge whether their skills will be a good fit.

Don’t use jargon. If you want unconventional candidates for your job, you need to drop conventional jargon. Ideally, you should be able to convey all the important details about the job in a way that everybody, even people outside your industry, can comprehend easily.

Don’t go overboard on requirements. Bombarding candidates with rigid requirements can turn them off even before they apply. Break down the skillsets that are really required to do the job and carefully consider the amount of experience you require a candidate to possess.

Clarify which skills are “nice to have.” Instead of putting all desired skills as “must have” requirements, specify what the hard requirements are, and then tell candidates what skills would be nice to have but aren’t essential. This helps ensure that you don’t get unqualified applicants, but still include those with transferable skills.

Express support for upskilling. If there is potential for growth, let your candidates know! Make sure people know that you will welcome them as they are and support their journey into a new career trajectory.

 Add value to your team with diverse candidates. Good talent comes from all types of career backgrounds and experiences, if they don’t, the company will be stuck with limited ideas and a one-track perspective for solving problems. By expanding your talent pool beyond your “ideal fit” you will create more opportunities and increase your chances of hiring a great candidate.

Shruthi Krishnan

Shruthi Krishnan
Shruthi Krishnan is a content writer at Zoho, predominantly focusing on recruitment and contingent workforce related content.

Shruthi Krishnan

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