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Becky Carruthers

Sometimes you have to look outside the box for your perfect hire; do you know when to ignore the labels and trust your instinct?

It’s easy to see why you’d want to hire an Account Manager who’s already got that title on their CV: they’re tested, they’re proven, and they have direct experience of the role to bring to your agency.

The most obvious starting point on a hiring journey is to look for candidates who’ve done it before, or are doing it currently.

But what if you’re looking in the wrong places?

What if there’s a unicorn in one of the other boxes, a box you’d never think to open because it’s labelled differently?

One of our senior consultants in Auckland placed a candidate like this in October:

On paper she didn’t hold the right job titles, but in an interview it became clear that not only did she have the relevant skills and competencies, she would be the perfect culture add, and also held strong values that echoed the company’s.

Since starting, both her and the manager have been happy and pleasantly surprised at how well the outside-the-box match turned out. Last we heard, they’re both loving the new appointment, and can’t wait to continue working together in 2020.

So, how can you make sure that you don’t miss these differently-labelled unicorns when they come to you?

  • Be Open-Minded:

Narrow searches can be limiting and uncover only a niche selection of candidates. This is a great starting point, but moving forward they may not fit your brief in other ways. Be open-minded when receiving CVs and look for more than just the title – what skills does this person have? What could they bring to the role from another field?

  • Ask The Questions:

If someone sells themselves well in their cover letter, but don’t tick all your boxes initially, don’t shy away from asking more questions to establish if they could really bring something to the team or not. Remember, a CV is just a piece of paper, and many people are sold short by this. Unsure? Just ask.

  • Think Holistically:

What else does the candidate need to be successful, beyond qualifications or direct experience? Are there some things that would set them apart, or fresh perspectives that would make them stand out?

If it’s a non-specialist position that could potentially be done by someone from a different background, consider what capabilities you’d look for to indicate that they could succeed in the role.

  • Seek Advice:

Call up references to find out more about your candidate – how adaptable are they? Do they wait for instructions or take initiative? Are they a fast learner and eager to take feedback? Just because their current role isn’t relevant on paper for the advertised one, doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills and competencies to learn quickly and perform it.

  • Find A Guide:

The best guides for finding unicorns in unexpected places are recruiters – it’s their job to seek out rare candidates and stars-in-the-making. After figuring out exactly what you need, and digging deeper to find the core requirements, a skilled recruiter will hunt down the best people for the job – whatever box they’re in at the moment.

Are you having trouble finding the right person for your role? Get in touch with the Become team in Australia or New Zealand, and share your struggles – they might just have the mis-labelled unicorn you’ve been looking for.