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Recruiting Candidates from Outside Industries How the Experts Do It

Recruiting Candidates from Outside Industries: How the Experts Do It

You’ve been waiting for the perfect candidate for your open position. But none of the usual industry job boards or talent sources have panned out. Then, out of nowhere, you come across someone who’d be fantastic in the role. There’s just one problem: all their experience is in a different industry.

As a recruiter, you know recruiting candidates from various fields can succeed in roles at your company. Sometimes, it’s convincing talent that’s difficult. Given how tight the competition for talent is, however, recruiting from other industries is worth the effort when done right.

You have to know what will open these high-quality candidates up to new opportunities and understand how to assess their unique skill sets. We asked recruiting experts to share their tips and tricks for finding and tapping into various talent pools. Here’s their advice for recruiting candidates from outside industries:

Where to Look

Companies with effective training

Samuel JohnsIn my experience, all industries feature employees with transferable skills. Some industries do tend to create more well-rounded individuals, though. For example, people in retail exhibit effective communication skills, an impressive amount of patience, and a high degree of adaptability due to the nature of their work.

I’ve also noticed that in each industry, there are ‘stand-out’ companies that are known to provide effective training to their hires. Thus, they’re considered to consistently produce high-quality talent. Since we frequently hire from diverse industries, I’ve compiled a go-to list of companies in each industry that we like to hire from. 

Samuel Johns, hiring manager at

Industries that align with your cultural

Paden Simmons

It’s always important to look at industries with a similar culture. So many skills are transferable, but it’s vital people are placed where they are likely to fit in easily. For instance, you wouldn’t take someone from a creative industry and put them into a position in a factory, that just wouldn’t work. It sounds really obvious but look for patterns that are similar to your own environment and look to appeal to the motivations of that talent pool.

For us, recruitment is a sales-based role, so we can often take people from a sales environment and cross-train them in providing niche IT professionals. We teach them about the product, ensure they are highly trained in it, and are well rewarded for hitting targets in return. 

Soft skills are arguably the most transferable quality an individual can possess, and a strong work ethic is the most important of those. Although you want your organization to provide a smooth onboarding process, a candidate who can display a willingness to learn and adapt is going to be able to move into a new environment with the least amount of problems. Being able to multitask and organize your workload is another desirable skill in almost any role.

Paden Simmons, executive vice president at Nigel Frank International

How to Assess Skills

Test through role-playing

Patrice Bisiot

Role-playing is the greatest approach to identifying talent in a different field. It’s an immediate evaluation on the ability to adjust and their personality. Just like improvisation on stage, being asked to act in an extreme character’s skin can reveal traits like a sense of humor or the ability to laugh at one’s self while being open to constructive criticism, which is essential to being a team player and/or a leader.

If there’s immediate resistance, self-development is in order. If this challenge introduces insecurity and a lack of self-esteem, we do not need to go any further, especially in industry crossover. The new recruit needs to be able to deal with any unexpected situation. However, there’s another extreme reaction: being overly confident. Ego is not the way to command the room.

Patrice Bisiot, founder of Image Impact Index

Look at accomplishments

Brian Sheehan

We hired a marketing strategist to help us with our digital marketing campaigns and SEO. She has a background in blogging and teaching yoga. She is still with our company today and is doing an excellent job. We used her online content development skills to improve our SEO by creating topics that increase top-funnel engagement. This, in turn, also helped to serve our clients who are in e-commerce, aerospace, transportation, and more.

Now, we look for different qualities when we recruit. We look to see what people’s accomplishments were and if that drove some type of development or growth for an organization or for that individual. As a third-party logistics company, many of our clients are entrepreneurs and we want to hire individuals who reflect the entrepreneurial drive and creativity of our customers.

Brian Sheehan, vice president of operations at Renewal Logistics

How to Convince Candidates

Challenge them to greatness

Zach Gale

When approaching candidates about switching industries, the focus should be put on the challenge or opportunities within the role itself. Few high-quality candidates will balk at an opportunity because of the industry. The reason for passing, more often than not, is a lack of opportunity, challenge, or upward mobility; selling points that are indifferent to industry

Zach Gale, regional key account manager at Atomic Brands

Play to their curiosity

Jes OsrowMake the problem you’re trying to solve interesting. It is easy to get stuck in a work rut. The more you can talk about the universality of issues or an updated means of approach, the more interested job seekers will be. The people you want on your team should be curious, involved in the company mission or product, and enjoy going out of their comfort zone as a means of learning.

Look for the quality of the skill, how the skill is used, and always look for quantitative reasoning of the skill. Saying ‘answered calls for executive staff’ is very different from ‘responded to 300 plus inquiries daily to support a team of four executives.’ One is dull, doesn’t actually say anything about the person or the skill. The other shows they work well under pressure can support multiple staff members, and are used to high volume. This isn’t about the industry, but rather about skill set and abilities.

Jes Osrow, co-founder of The Rise Journey



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