When bringing on new talent at an organization, it can be quite appealing to hire someone from a competitor. The onboarding and training process becomes easier, as there is less of a learning curve. I get it, and agree with the approach, especially if you are a company that can’t invest much time into training.

The ROI on somebody with industry experience is usually going to be higher in the first 6 months, but when I hire, I plan on keeping the individual working for me for years. This perspective changes the way that I approach hiring new talent and places less emphasis on the industry in which they are transitioning from.

I think of it much like sports.  Would you rather have a proven B player on your team who you’re going to have to pay well or a rookie prospect, who you probably don’t need to pay as much but with some coaching can be an A player in 12 months?

I’ve witnessed good salespeople transition from one industry to another, without any issues. 90% of the skills are transferable and the other 10% can be taught. I typically see that those with no experience are even more eager to learn and be successful, you can train them your way, they turnover less, are more loyal for the opportunity and they’re more open to being on a lower base salary with aggressive commissions.  In addition, I love hiring somebody that feels like they have something to prove.

Work ethic is the biggest key to success.

Certain things just can’t be taught, and work ethic is high on that list of unteachable skills. When comparing two resumes, the first candidate may have an extremely impressive academic background and series of relevant internships within the industry, while the second candidate boasts equally impressive grades, but from a less prestigious school, and a series of seemingly unrelated service jobs.

Upon first glance many recruiters might believe that the first candidate is a better fit, as they clearly had a strong education and experience interning within the industry.  Often the barriers that existed within their lives.

Here are things you may not have considered:

  • Did they pay for college and work while in school which may have reduced the amount of time they had to study?
  • What other things do they offer besides good grades?
  • Could there be good reasons why their resume looks so naked?
  • What is their attitude and work ethic like?

A few of my best recruiters have been from payroll sales, corporate relocation and logistics.  Hiring somebody with a recruiting background would’ve been easier in the short-term but I knew that if I put 6 months of training into them, they had the potential to be way better than the other candidates I interviewed with recruiting experience.  However, I got great employees who were hard working, loyal to me for giving them an opportunity to recruit, humble and I was able to train them my way instead of them coming in with bad habits.

Assuming that you have the right training in place (and if you don’t, there are sales consultants I’m happy to recommend), don’t look into a resume too much.  Instead, ask your connections, “Who are a few of the hardest working people you know?”

When interviewing candidates, ask questions about their personality, not just about their resume.  See how they follow-up with you after the interview.  Instead of thinking, “Can this person be successful in this role today?” start thinking, “Is this person worth investing time into and can they develop into an A player?”

If you limit your recruitment process and expectations to just an impressive resume, chances are you are missing the candidate that has the ability and work ethic to truly deliver for your organization.

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