How do you recruit people with atypical profiles ?

Have you ever thought about recruiting personalities rather than profiles? You’ll be surprised about the advantages that candidates with alternative profiles can bring to your teams and your business. But first of all, who is someone with an atypical profile? The simple response could be: “Someone that you would have not thought of for this position”. People with atypical profiles are not only candidates who have come along a bumpy road. They can also be people who are older - or younger - than you envisioned. Or simply someone who did not study what necessarily suits the position offered.

With Elsa, Head of Growth at Welcome to the Jungle, we discussed the characteristics of atypical candidates, not only about how to spot them, but also about how to attract them to your company. It is no surprise that soft skills were at the centre of discussions, including looking for and identifying these skills. It is these inter-personal skills that recruiters try to look for in candidates. We have also highlighted the importance of good onboarding - whether the candidate has an atypical profile or not! Finally, we have answered some questions, notably “How can we help managers to be more open to candidates who have had atypical career paths?” 

 #1. A CV is not enough



The CV is not dead but it is no longer enough. This is the reality of recruitment today, as more than half of recruiters read a CV in less than once minute (RegionJobs, 2017). So, what else is there? Previous experiences, their duration, and technical skills. These are the parts that are most read by recruiters. Sometimes a CV can also reveal parts which would not have normally attracted you but which, in this context, can prove to be interesting.



However, it is useless to make a degree or university course your priority when considering candidates. By recruiting people who all have the same backgrounds, you risk having teams made up of “clones”. Your teams would, of course, perform well but only to a certain extent as they would not ask many questions and they would not be very creative.

 #2. Personality before skills

By opening up your recruitment process to people with alternative profiles, you are able to find the soft skills or the interpersonal skills that a candidate has which match the culture of your business. First of all, ask yourself the question:  What do I expect from a candidate? The answer is not necessarily the same for all positions or projects, which is why it is important to adapt your adverts and your job offer to the candidate that you are looking for.

Once you have defined what soft skills you would like to see, you need to implement ways to find them. During the interview, make time to ask less traditional questions: “Sell me a journey to space”, “What do you think about team meetings?”, “What is the first thing that you would change in our organisation?”(consult the ebook for more examples: Top 60 Questions to Ask to Reveal Soft Skills). The aim is not to trap the candidate, and there is no wrong or right answer. Instead, try to understand their thought process and what their response tells you about their character. 

Why not organise serious games, escape games, or even invite your candidates to after-work drinks with their future colleagues to assess their ability to adapt to being part of the team?

If you don't feel at easy with this process, try to integrate special questions in your pre screening video interviews as a first step! 

#3. Attracting and Retaining

All too often we see job adverts which aren't very clear or are too restrictive. So that people with atypical profiles are not put off, do not limit your adverts to required experience or degrees. Also avoid titles that aren't very indicative, such as ninja or evangelist! In situations where parity within your teams is more difficult to achieve, consider writing more inclusive adverts, for example.



Once your candidates with atypical backgrounds have been recruited, don't stop there. Take care of them, including training them so that they can fill any gaps in their knowledge about useful topics that they would use on a daily basis. Consider microlearning, which lasts only 15 to 20 minutes and which can help someone who isn't used to internal communication tools that many web or tech companies use.


Onboarding is just one vital step to take in order to integrate these employees well in your company. Generally speaking, bringing someone else into a team requires special attention during the first few days. Organise meetings with different managers and ask them to introduce themselves, by e-mail or in person. At Automattic(which owns Wordpress), all new employees must spend their first three weeks with the client support team to get a better understanding of this central element of the business.


Take a look at the frequently asked questions!

“How do you convince your manager to accept atypical candidates during an interview?” To help managers be more open to alternative candidate profiles, try to involve them in the recruitment process right from the start. Ask them to help you write the job description, and ask them to be part of the interviews. This way, they will feel more involved and may discover the candidates’ character on their own.

“Should you also include future colleagues in the recruitment process?” 
This is a possibility that can bring as much to the company as to the candidate. By asking a candidate's future colleague to explain to them in 5-10 minutes what the role entails or about a typical day, the candidate is able to get a better idea about what they can expect in the job. These employees can also give feedback to the manager about the candidate's character. It's a win-win situation!

“How do you encourage candidates with atypical profiles to apply?” Often, candidates with atypical profiles only expect one chance to sell themselves to recruiters. Therefore, it is important to show, through the employer brand or through less restrictive adverts, willingness to be open to alternative traits.

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#Atypical profiles #Skills Assessment #Digital Recruiting

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