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Skills-Based Hiring Widens the Workforce

The era of linear and traditional career paths has faded into the past. In recent decades, the landscape of working adulthood has shifted from relative stability to a dynamic period of exploration and discovery. Emerging from this evolution are individuals pursuing non-traditional or non-linear careers. Companies that embrace these diverse workers and the skills-based hiring approach will infuse their teams and future-proof their company. 

What are non-traditional careers?

Non-traditional careers involve pursuits outside the typical job structures or industries. They encompass unconventional roles, freelance work, entrepreneurship, or skill development through diverse experiences rather than following a linear, predefined career path. These individuals often bring a breadth of expertise, adaptability, and innovative thinking cultivated through varied experiences, which can greatly benefit a team.

What are non-linear careers? 

Non-linear careers emphasize progression that may not adhere to a step-by-step advancement within a single domain. Professionals in non-linear careers might switch industries and prefer to grow in their careers by diversifying their skill sets extensively over time. Their journeys often exhibit resilience, adaptability, and a unique perspective shaped by diverse experiences, which can enrich a team’s problem-solving and creative capacity. David Epstein’s book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World gives a new perspective on the value of having generalists on a team. Epstein, throughout the book, lays a case for the greater appreciation for those that bring a broad range of experiences to the table. 

“Individuals with a broad range of experiences, skills, and knowledge can often bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions because they don’t adhere strictly to one field or specialization.” David Epstein: Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialize World 

Traditional hiring methods and most job board algorithms often rely on specific qualifications and linear career trajectories, inadvertently excluding non-traditional or non-linear candidates. Resumes are often filtered based on strict criteria that overlook the valuable skills, adaptability, and creativity these candidates bring. Consequently, companies miss out on a pool of talent that can offer fresh perspectives, innovative solutions, and the ability to navigate change effectively. Companies employing a skills-based hiring approach rather than “time in a seat” will outlast other companies.

Who are those with non-linear or non-traditional careers? 

While individuals with non-linear or non-traditional careers come from various backgrounds and have different motivations, here are a few groups commonly associated with these unique resumes:

Career Switchers: Professionals who transition from one industry to another or shift focus within their careers. For instance, an engineer who becomes a chef or a marketer who becomes a software developer. They often decided at one point to completely switch careers, leveraging transferable skills and experiences.

Freelancers/Independent Contractors: Those who work on a project-to-project basis rather than holding a permanent position within a single company. This includes writers, designers, consultants, and other freelancers who often have a portfolio of clients rather than a fixed employer.

Caretakers/Trailing Spouses: People who have had to adjust their careers due to family requirements such as a partner’s job transfer, a child’s development needs, and military spouses. These professionals may have worked their entire careers but had to adjust the types of roles they could perform. 

Entrepreneurs: Individuals who create their businesses or startups, taking on multifaceted roles and responsibilities outside the traditional corporate structure.

Returners/Re-entrants: People who re-enter the workforce after a career break, which could be due to childcare, further education, or personal pursuits.

Multi-Passionate Individuals: Those who have diverse interests and skills, pursuing various avenues simultaneously or at different points in their lives rather than specializing in one field.

Companies that welcome diverse candidates, including non-traditional and non-linear careerists, and practice skills-based hiring can cultivate a resilient team culture. These companies will foster a more dynamic, inclusive, and resilient work environment by incorporating individuals who thrive in ambiguity, think creatively, and approach challenges from unconventional angles. 

Boulo Solutions has a recruiting platform that leverages a skills-first hiring approach by creating 360° profiles of candidates. As forward-thinking companies continue to adopt the practice, Boulo continues to invest in our platform technology and will soon release a new feature that provides our customers with a curated list of suggested candidates and prioritizes applicants by their percent match.