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Thinking Outside the Box When Hiring

  |  March 29, 2012   |  Comments

Don't discount the unconventional candidates.

If you're in a position of hiring and fortunate enough to have an open position, you may also be drowning in a pile of resumes that need to be reviewed. It's probably very tempting - as you're giving the resumes the half-second look-over - to disqualify anyone who doesn't have the perfect profile that you're seeking. Since most of you whom are reading this column are probably hiring for digital positions, I do suggest that you think twice when it comes to a few special circumstances. You may find that although they don't fit the criteria you're looking for "to a tee," the hard work and diligence they will bring to the job will overcome any temporary limitations with some training. When these people say they're "quick learners" and "hard workers," they mean it.

Returning veterans. With the end of the Iraq War, returning veterans face more uncertainty. Unemployment among veterans is among the highest of any group, particularly young veterans between the ages of 18 to 24. The good news is that veterans bring key skills to the civilian work place, including leadership, respect, adaptability, reliability, and working as part of teams. They also bring a fresh perspective to the creative process.

Returning parents. Maybe it's not the Iraq War, but many stay-at-home parents may feel like they are returning from a war as well (particularly parents of multiples). Taking care of a child or children teaches you many important skills on the job. For example, parents have learned patience, communication, multitasking, and commitment. In addition, don't overlook flexible schedules when it comes to parents; it's amazing how much they can squeeze into a condensed week.

Returning travelers (or other interesting sabbaticals). Many of us have dreamed of taking an exotic sabbatical to travel, work, or volunteer overseas (or even within the country), but it takes a lot of courage to actually leave your job and do it. But, for those who have taken the plunge and are now back, they may provide value to your group. For one thing, the act of courage to leave your comfort zone and stretch into unknown territory should be acknowledged. In addition, the skills and empathy that are gained by traveling or living in a new environment provides a fresh perspective that enhances your team's perspective.

Career-changers or mid-career professionals. Let's admit it, there's a bit of an age bias in advertising - particularly digital. Part of it has to do with the long, tenuous hours that need to be devoted the first few years to a lot of grunt work. However, we shouldn't discount the experience someone does have and the years of hard work she has devoted even if it's in a different field. Since much of digital is about creativity, client service, and data analysis, there are many fields where we can benefit from the insight that those professionals have acquired. Wouldn't it be great to actually have a real statistician as part of your team helping you decipher the results of your campaign?

The unemployed. Losing your job is hard, particularly when it's unexpected and not a direct result of your output. To make matters worse, many employers do not want to receive resumes from the unemployed. In advertising, many good people lose their jobs every day and we should try to not judge them harshly. In fact, you may find value in such people because they bring humbleness and commitment to the job. Also, you never know when you'll be in their place.

The retired. Retirement looks very different these days than it did 50 years ago. Many retirees are living longer and returning to work even on a part-time basis. Don't overlook them, particularly for short-term assignments. You may be dealing with a problem that they had to tackle many times. Also, retirees have nothing to lose so they'll give it to you straight, and who doesn't need some straight talk every now and then?


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Anna Papadopoulos

Based in New York, Anna Papadopoulos has held several digital media positions and has worked across many sectors including automotive, financial, pharmaceutical, and CPG.

An advocate for creative media thinking and an early digital pioneer, Anna has been a part of several industry firsts, including the first fully integrated campaign and podcast for Volvo and has been a ClickZ contributor since 2005. She began her career as a media negotiator for TBS Media Management, where she bought for media clients such as CVS and RadioShack. Anna earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from St. John's University in New York.

Follow her on Twitter @annapapadopoulo and on LinkedIn.

Anna's ideas and columns represent only her own opinion and not her company's.

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