Breaking Out of Your Hiring Comfort Zone - blog from TalentSpark

Breaking Out of Your Hiring Comfort Zone

In 2017, Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in the next five years (by 2022). Deloitte recently employed a school-blind hiring process, hiding the educational qualifications of candidates to help assuage unconscious hiring biases. And other companies of note, like Zappos, take part in diversity and inclusion initiatives when recruiting talent.

What do some of these companies — and others like them — have in common? They thought outside the box and broke out of their hiring comfort zones.

Hiring is a critical function for any organization, and it’s essential to get it right. However, many companies remain stuck within their own status quo hiring comfort zone that they don’t want to step out of. This can cause them to miss out on excellent candidates, leading to a lack of diversity and innovation within the ranks. If this reluctance describes your hiring approach, here’s how to break the habit and change your recruitment ways.

First, What Is a Hiring Comfort Zone?

A hiring comfort zone is a set of preferences and biases that companies have when it comes to recruiting and hiring employees. These may be based on a company’s culture, the industry they operate in, or even the type of roles they typically hire for. 

For example, a technology company may have a preference for candidates with a computer science degree or relevant work experience. Alternatively, a creative agency may favor candidates with a background in art or design.

That’s all well and good, but these companies are actually limiting themselves because they’re narrowing and restricting their available pool of candidates. As a result, they may overlook candidates who have different skills, experiences or backgrounds. This can lead to a lack of diversity within the company, both in terms of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds. Additionally, companies may miss out on talented candidates who could bring new perspectives, ideas and innovation to the organization — an unfortunate loss where neither employer or professional connect with each other.

Stepping Out of the Hiring Comfort Zone

Shedding old hiring habits and creating new ones means challenging your protocols, broadening your perspective and following through with new methods. Here are some tips to get started:

Re-Evaluate Your Hiring Criteria

Ask yourself: Which skills and experiences are necessary for success? Which of your criteria are too narrow and may exclude good candidates? To broaden your search, consider hiring candidates with transferable skills (also known as portable skills; those one takes with them from one job to another) and experiences that may be relevant to the role, and those from diverse backgrounds who may bring unique perspectives and experiences to the role.

Cast a Wider Net

When looking for candidates, it’s essential to look beyond your usual sources. Don’t limit your search to the same job boards or recruitment agencies that you usually use. Yes, these may be the best sites and may enable a more focused search. But by posting ads on a site for professionals in a different industry, you never know when the ideal candidate might be someone well poised to transition from one vertical to another. Also consider reaching out to other networks and communities, such as industry associations or diversity and inclusion groups, to tap into a larger talent pool.

Remove Bias from the Process

To break out of your hiring comfort zone, you need to ensure that your hiring process is fair and unbiased. This means removing any potential preconceived notions from your process, such as unconscious bias. You might also use objective assessments and scoring criteria to evaluate candidates, rather than relying solely on subjective impressions. Consider implementing blind hiring practices, such as removing names, photos and other identifying information from resumes.

Consider Alternative Qualifications

Instead of focusing solely on specific degrees or qualifications, consider alternative qualifications with relevancy. A candidate with a degree in a different field but has relevant work experience or has completed a certification course may still be a good fit. For example, someone who has completed a coding boot camp or has relevant work experience may be just as qualified for a software engineering role as someone with a computer science degree. Provide training and development opportunities for candidates who may have some skills gaps but still possess potential to succeed in the role.

Emphasize Soft Skills

Soft skills (aka people skills), such as communication, collaboration/teamwork and problem-solving, are increasingly essential for success in the workplace. Work toward emphasizing these skills during recruitment. Soft skills can be developed over time, and candidates who may not have the specific technical skills required for the role may still be a good fit based on their soft skills. Likewise, if candidates — or your own company, for that matter — need brushing up on soft skills, consider providing training and development programs that focus on leadership, communication, emotional intelligence and other skills.

Venture Into Uncharted Territory

Breaking down the walls of your hiring comfort zone can help attract a more diverse and talented group of job seekers, ushering in new perspectives, ideas and innovation into your workplace culture and valuing different perspectives and experiences.

TalentSpark’s professional recruiting search dovetails with your renewed hiring approach. We get to know your company’s culture by listening to your needs and finding candidates in the greater Boise area that will help your business thrive. Ready to recruit? Connect with us now.