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Square Peg in a Round Hole? The question of transferable skills, potential and employers lost opportunities

01 Nov 10:00 By Shosh Cutter


I haven’t been in the recruitment space for very long and it could appear to some as a completely out of left field kind of change. The benefit to my previous 20 years of experience within the space I am recruiting into has allowed me to move with a decent level of credibility for it to be more of a sideways step rather than a complete change. I have also been the hiring manager client side for many years too, along with helping people develop and grow. That said, there were so many new things to learn that I had never considered prior to making this change. And that is what change is all about; learning new things, new perspectives, growth and opportunity.

But how many of us actually get this chance? How many of us have someone who sees what value we offer? Someone who is prepared to see potential as both bettable and bankable? 

Not many it would seem. I am one of the lucky ones.

The fact that I have had the benefit of a supportive new boss who has seen the value of my transferable skills juxtaposes with the mindset that I am now seeing when meeting with clients who are clear around exact experience matches which means they are potentially missing out on keen, driven talent who could bring more than they have imagined to the table. In fact, that supportive boss actually approached me, seeing those transferable skills before I did.

It has led me to wonder whether we have become too risk-averse on taking the punt on talent and potential?

We were all inexperienced in our fields of expertise once and someone took a chance on us. I wonder what has happened to cause this to change?

I am also wondering how we can change this, not just for the sake of the overwhelmingly talented people I have the privilege of meeting and trying to help every day, but also for the opportunity of fresh eyes and perspectives that businesses would benefit from?

We need to widen our view on Talent! What do I mean by this? 

1 - Compromise on experience, don’t compromise on character.

The best assessors in any field look at people differently. Perhaps the question is not just what you can do today, but what you might be able to do for us years from now?

2 - Seek out the talented whisperers. 

The world is full of overloaded people. Take time every now and then to ask what you aren’t seeing but perhaps should be. It may be easier and safer to stick to the pack and doing things the same way everyone else does but this amounts to sameness and conformity.

3 - Asking how we can do things/approach things differently can help be the disruptor that we all need to get ahead. 

Spotting promise can pay great dividends.

4 - Taking chances, means you can take more of them

JK Rowling was once a newcomer - Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was her first book. Where would the world be if someone didn’t take a chance? 

There is the notion of risk vs reward; sometimes the best reward comes from taking that risk on someone.

Where would we all be if someone didn’t once take a chance, and see something in us? 

The reality is that the perfect candidate might be right there and waiting for you if only you're prepared to loosen the blinkers you might have on what you believe you need. A search for 'perfection' can often be filled with frustration, disappointment and wasted time. When you shift the focus from what you believe you need to what someone is offering and how that might work for you, that search can become so much easier.

You just might find that new team member who makes all the difference.