Open the Door to New Talent with These Unconventional Candidates

Here’s a familiar story: Business is booming, and it’s time to add a new member to the team. You want to find someone who has the right experience, is a leader and wants to grow within your organization. But amid a tapped-out talent pool and stiff market competition, you’re struggling to find the right fit.

There has to be a better way to approach this — right? In fact, there is. Changing just two words in your vernacular can shift your entire recruitment strategy, helping you beat the competition and win the best talent. By swapping the “years of experience” requirement for “level of expertise,” you’ll open doors to talent you might never have considered before. 

Swapping out a word is easy enough — but while “years of experience” is quantifiable, “level of expertise” is qualitative. To gauge this requirement, the trick is to find expertise that isn’t gained through traditional experience. 

In this post, we’ll look at four personas of unconventional candidates, address common misperceptions and offer sample screening questions to ensure they have the expertise and attitude you need.   

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7 steps to recruit the best people for your agency

1.       Start with a person description

It’s easy to jump right into writing a job ad, but really that’s secondary in the process.  You should start with thinking about who the PERSON is that you want to hire, not just the job you’re hiring for.  Some things to think about – is a degree really necessary?  Are they going to be working at a fast pace?  Are there skills that could be transferable?  What are the 3 most important things that this person knows how to do?  For everything that they must have, ask yourself “why?”.  If they MUST have 5 years of agency experience, why?  Would someone that has 3 years of agency experience and a mix of in-house experience still be able to accomplish the goals at hand?  What happens if they’ve shown great progression over the course of their career, would that make a difference?  Do your salary expectations align with your experience levels?  Having hard and fast requirements can kill your applicant pool. 

Think about people who have done this role before.  How many years of experience did they have when they started the role (not when they left it.)  What were their weaknesses and strengths?  If they’re still at the organization, what person and skills would complement this person to have a more holistic view of the team? 

 2.       Then, build a job description

Describe the role.  This is totally boring, but important.  This is the day in and day out of the position, the work that someone will be doing. 

 3.       Next, work on what you have to offer them

Think about what you’re selling.  Why would someone want to come work for you?  What does your agency do differently/better than everyone else?  Don’t just think about salary and benefits; think about the work and why it would entice someone.

 4.       After that, build your job ad

Your job ad encompasses all three of these things – who the person is, what they’ll be doing and why they will want to be doing it…for you.  Use your marketing chops to make sure it sells to the right person. 

 5.       Once your ad is up and running on your site, then figure out your outreach strategy.

The cobbler’s children have no shoes.  Don’t forget that this is a marketing exercise.  Be your own client and think about how you want to brand yourself and how to get after that target audience.  This includes outreach.  Where do these people live online?  Competitors sites, associations, LinkedIn, job boards?  In recruiting lingo, we call this “sourcing”.  It’s not a quick process, but it’s an important one.  Outreach via LinkedIn, email, etc.  If you don’t have their contact info, utilize online resources to find it.  If they don’t initially respond, ping and ping again.  A good rule of thumb is three times and you’re out. 

 6.       Have an easy apply and an even easier interview process

Make sure you eliminate all barriers for applying, especially if you’re doing the outreach.  Don’t worry about waiting on having them craft the perfect resume.  If you have an understanding of their work history and they’ve been in the right types of roles, have a conversation with them.   Once you find who you think could be great for the role, bring them in and have them meet the team.  Be transparent in the process. Make logistics as easy as possible and act quickly. 

7.       Make an offer with an offer letter

It’s okay to start with a verbal offer, but quickly follow that up with something in writing.  Candidates will not quit their current roles on your word and this will ultimately delay the time it takes for them to start with you. 

 Also remember to never stop recruiting!  Even if you’re in late stages with a candidate, keep the recruiting process moving until someone is in the seat.  It’s okay to let other potential candidates know that you’re close to hiring, but that you’d still like to connect.  This opens up opportunities for the future plus if the person you’re negotiating with doesn’t pan out, you’re not starting at zero again. 


Working with a recruiter

“I have a recruiting firm.” 

“Oh, so you…”

Lately, this is how every conversation that I have starts.  People aren’t comfortable asking what a recruiting firm does because they think they should already know, so this vague discussion ensues.

They shouldn’t feel bad, often times people have only switched jobs less than 5 times in their career thus far, and may not have had a recruiting company as a part of the process.   

Let me clear up that there are a million names for pretty much the same thing.  A third-party recruiter, recruiting agency, staffing agency, staffing firm, recruiting firm, headhunter, etc…all of these things are all one in the same. 

They’re all the same, but there are different versions of a recruiting.  Some (like myself) focus on permanent recruiting, meaning the companies that I work with hire the people that I work with as full time employees of their companies.  The other side of recruiting is temp/contract work, where the people working are employed by the recruiting company, but do all of their work at the hiring company until their assignment is finished. 

As a perm recruiter, I connect work to people.  Notice I didn’t say I connect people to work.  When a company decides to work with me, they want me to work to fill their jobs, and I find the people.  If I’m working with someone right now, and I don’t have any work that matches their background right now, we have to keep our lines of communication open should that change in the future. 

So why would a company want to even work with a recruiting firm in the first place? Why can’t they just do this on their own? 

There are many scenarios…here are some examples:

A company currently has 15 employees.  They suddenly get that big project they’ve bid on.  They need 10 additional people to make the magic happen.  There may be some people in their networks that they could tap into, but the time it takes to strategically advertise, source, find and screen individuals is challenging, particularly when the current 15 employees all have a day job and are ramping up for more work.  In this scenario, it makes sense to work with a recruiting firm.

A company has a team of 5 recruiters.  Each recruiter is assigned to an average of 10 jobs to work on at a time (which is a lot to begin with).  The company has a hiring surge in a particular area, and the recruiters can’t handle the additional workload.  It doesn’t make sense to bring on another full-time recruiter for the surge (things will level out eventually).  The company will work with a recruiting firm to supplement the hiring.

A company mainly focuses manufacturing and sales hiring.  They have strong networks to hire these individuals, but need to bring on a software programmer.  Instead of starting from scratch to build out a network to find the right person, they rely on a recruiting firm that has expertise and an existing network to find the best individual.

Really good recruiters are great people to know because they often are the first phone call when a job becomes available and if you’re part of their network, you could be immediately tapped.  They also have insight into which companies are better than others, and as you move along in the process, you have a coach along the way.  Recruiters can also help you with salary negotiation…keep in mind that the more you get paid, the more they get paid.

If you have a recruiter that you trust, you can call them if your job sucks. If a recruiter calls you, make sure you interview them before they start interviewing you.  You can have a real partner for years into the future by networking with recruiters. 


Recruiting done right

This week is the official launch of Kada Recruiting.  Kada is a word in the Guamanian language that means each time, every time.  Kada Recruiting aims to recruit by having consistent outreach and full transparency into the recruiting process, getting the right people doing the right work, each time, every time.

Our belief is that there are two key elements that make this work:  Understanding and transparency

  • Understanding the work that a company needs to get accomplished and understanding the work that people want to accomplish.
  • Being completely transparent on what the recruiting process is and what the driving factors are in that process.


Truly talented smart people, can be annoyed by recruiters.

A Division 1 college football team has a head coach and staff responsible for recruiting.  They also have scouts that they work with across the country to identify talent.  All of these individuals understand the rules and nuances of the game.  They understand all of the positions. They know what key skillsets can cross over to other positions and which won’t.  They may personally have never suited up and even for those who have, they may not have been the best, but they know everything about the world of football and where the gaps are for the team and what type of talent is needed for that team to win. 

Recruiting for corporations is no different.  They have the manager of a team who is hiring, an internal recruiting team and potentially other recruiters who help identify the talent and bring the right people to the hiring manager.  Talent drives sports teams to win and it drives companies to be successful. 

But it is different.  Outside of the hiring manager, the level of knowledge of the other recruiters in the process tends to drop.  They don’t always understand “the game”.  Imagine a football scout who’s never watched a game and it just looking at score sheets.  The scout could call on a kicker to fill the role of a quarterback.  They both score points; they both play football.  After multiple calls the kicker would be annoyed.  Or worse, they would say, “sure I can do that” and then the head coach is left trying to filter through hundreds of mismatched players. 

This happens in technical recruiting all of the time.  A hiring manager is looking for a software developer to build an iPhone app.  A mobile Android developer gets a hundred calls from recruiters asking if they’re qualified.  ”Hey, you build apps, you code, you can do that right?”  Annoying.

Kada Recruiting knows the technical game and its nuances.  They’re constantly on the search for who does what, what are the transferrable skills and where there can be a fit for the work a company is trying to accomplish.


Every great relationship is built on honesty.  Honestly, not every person is qualified for every job.  They should be told that.  Sometimes, you’re not going to make the team, and that’s okay.  There’s learning in that.  Timing is a factor.  Life situations are a factor.  Sometimes the process can be messy and it’s important to know what is happening and how to and when to move on. 

Kada Recruiting believes that this builds long term relationships with everyone, people who are hiring and the talent that exists to be hired.  Ongoing communication and transparency is key to success. 

Work is complicated.  People are complicated. 

Understanding work and being transparent with people is what drives recruiting done right. 

To learn more about Kada, check out our story.  Also, feel free to connect with us anytime.