Recruiting a Career Changer: A Complete Guide

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated June 19, 2022

Are you a talent acquisition specialist or business owner looking to attract great talent? It may be tempting to pass over CVs from candidates who lack specific technical skills, such as career changers, during the screening process. However, there are plenty of advantages to hiring a career changer. Recruiters should think twice before ruling out career changers who may not be the best fit on paper. For example, a former teacher looking for their first role in marketing may have the creative mind your team needs. 

The average person holds 12 different jobs in their lifetime and 11% of workers in the UK move jobs every year. This data shows that switching careers is becoming increasingly common. As a recruiter, this is a golden opportunity to attract highly-experienced talent to your organisation. Even if their skill set doesn’t fit the job description to a tee.

In this article, we touch on the benefits of hiring career changers and our top tips to attract career changers to your business.

Why Hire a Career Changer

Let’s start by looking at some of the business benefits of hiring a career changer.

A Career Changer Has a Valuable Transferable Skillset

When an employee leaves an organisation, they take their knowledge and skills with them. Therefore, most career changers come to your organisation with a developed set of soft skills. In turn, this skill set can be adapted and transferred to different roles and contexts. Transferable skills are highly valuable to employers because they tend to come with experience, making them difficult to train.  

According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2019, 92% of professionals in the talent acquisition sector value soft skills just as much as technical skills in the hiring process. This also impacts talent retention. Indeed, a lack of soft skills is one of the biggest reasons why new recruits don’t work out.

When recruiting for talent, don’t overlook a career-changer skillset. Skills such as communication, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence are valued traits that dramatically improve team dynamics and company culture.

Career Changers Offer a Fresh Perspective

Another perk of employing a career changer is the chance for a fresh perspective. By employing a professional who comes with experience in a different field, you open the doors for new insights. For instance, a former civil servant applying for a role as an office manager. Using their experience, they may be able to share some nuggets of wisdom on how to streamline admin processes. 

Fresh eyes are always beneficial for a business. However, fresh eyes from a seasoned professional with well-honed communication skills can be the push your business needs.

Career Switchers Bring Passion and Enthusiasm

The decision to switch careers is never an easy one. Especially for older career changers. While there are many reasons why people decide to switch careers, a common reason is a lack of fulfilment. This is great news for future employers. Here’s why. 

An employee who opts to change career paths in the quest for something more fulfilling is demonstrating their passion. This employee wants to be engaged. They want to work. For an employer, this means you gain a motivated, engaged employee who has a desire to learn and develop. That’s priceless.

Recruiting Career Changers Promotes a Diverse Workplace

Career changers come from diverse age groups and backgrounds. As such, employing career changers can promote diversity in your organisation. Research from Sage found that racially diverse teams reported a 35% increase in performance. Therefore, diverse recruiting can significantly impact business results.

Diverse workplaces come out on top time after time when it comes to not only performance but innovation and culture too. In fact, a whopping 67% of millennial and generation z jobseekers cite diversity as a key consideration. Put simply, adopting an inclusive recruiting strategy that embraces career changers can do wonders for your team.

5 Tips on How to Recruit a Career Changer

Now we’ve seen the benefits of hiring a career changer, let’s take a look at 5 ways to attract career switchers to your business.

1. Focus on Behavioural Interview Questions

When it comes to interviewing career changers, behavioural interview questions work best. A common interview faux pas is asking questions that are too general. A typical example is: “How would you deal with an angry client?”. Not only is the question way too broad, but it’s entirely hypothetical. Think about it, would you buy a new house based on a hypothetical inspection? Our guess is no. You want to see clear evidence that the house is up-to-standard. The same goes for interview questions.

Behavioural questions focus on real-life examples. They ask candidates to demonstrate a challenge they faced and how they faced it. Here’s an example. “Tell me about a time you were able to resolve a tough challenge a customer faced”. The answer to this question will reveal a lot more about the candidate. This is especially important when recruiting a career changer. Since they lack industry-related experience, you need to ask the right questions to determine their transferable skills.

2. Expand Your Talent Pool

In order to attract high-quality talent, you may need to re-evaluate your current recruiting process. A simple way to cast a wider net is by advertising on the right job boards. Talent acquisition specialists looking to recruit a career changer should post job ads on dedicated job boards for career changers. This will open up a new pool of highly-experienced candidates looking for the opportunity to break into a new career path.

Additionally, recruiters should make solid efforts to attend more job fairs and post across all social media platforms. This will enable them to reach a wider audience. Employee referral programs are another excellent source of great talent, such as career changers. Offering an employee referral bonus is also a fantastic way to incentivize staff to share internal job postings with their network.

3. Offer Flexible Working Options

A lack of work flexibility is a common reason why employees decide to switch careers.  This is particularly common in a post-COVID 19 world. After enjoying the benefits of remote working and flexible working, many workers are reluctant to return to rigid working environments. Therefore, offering flexible work options that promote better work-life balance can be a major selling point for career changers.

There are numerous ways to achieve a more flexible working environment. For instance, introducing flexible working policies such as a reduced workweek, a flexitime schedule, or job sharing. Additionally, offering remote working or a hybrid workplace can offer employees greater flexibility. This, in turn, is a great employer branding tool to attract talented career changers. 

4. Rethink Your Job Descriptions

We’ve all seen it, a job description for an entry-level role that asks for 5 years of experience. It’s a common challenge that job seekers face. Not only is it frustrating for candidates, but it is also a huge barrier for employers. To attract a diverse group of candidates, including those shifting careers, you may need to reconsider your job description. 

As we have already seen, almost all talent acquisition specialists value soft skills just as much as hard skills. However, the majority of job descriptions don’t reflect this. For example, a candidate who wants to switch from hospitality work to a sales role. While they may not have a proven sales record, they may well have the transferable skills to succeed in the role. Put simply, you could be missing out on excellent talent by writing job descriptions that discourage career changers from applying.

5. Invest in Professional Development

According to research, 34% of employees left their previous job because of a lack of career development opportunities. Businesses that invest in professional development report a more engaged workforce, higher retention, and better overall performance. Therefore, for employers looking to attract a career changer, a great professional development program is the key.

A successful professional development program focuses on knowledge sharing and continuous learning, offering employees opportunities to upskill or retrain. It should also include leadership training and career journeys for employees. This gives employees a clear roadmap of the skills they need to develop to progress in their careers. What’s more, managers should hold regular 1-2-1s and performance reviews with employees to check in on their progress. 

In a nutshell, a strong employee development program is a huge asset for companies looking to attract a career changer to the business. 

Final Thoughts

There are huge benefits to hiring a career change candidate. Not only do they offer a highly-valuable transferable skillset, but career changers bring a fresh perspective and a diverse outlook. Follow the tips outlined in this guide to boost your recruitment strategy today and tap into a larger pool of talent. 

Refreshing a Career has a wealth of useful tips and resources for employers to help you attract great talent to your business. Be sure to check out what employer services we can provide your company, including advertising your roles on our unique career change jobs board. Alternatively, get in touch to see how we can help.

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Last Updated: Thursday July 21 2022
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