Hiring Non-Traditional Employees: Everything Employers Need to Know

  • Recruitment/HR
Kiran Virk

Kiran Virk, Head of Talent Acquisition

(Last updated )

Even though workplaces have been making progress toward building more inclusive environments, many employers still exclude hiring people who lack specific selection criteria.

HR departments often overlook candidates with gaps in their resumes, skills gaps, unusual educational backgrounds, or non-linear career paths.

Despite having atypical backgrounds, hiring non-traditional employees can be beneficial for businesses. Instead of judging employees on their backgrounds, employers should focus on candidates’ ability to do their job.

What is a non-traditional worker?

A non-traditional employee is defined as a person that employers would usually overlook or exclude in the hiring process. Some typical examples include workers who lack the desired occupational requirements, such as a related degree, direct experience, or job-specific certifications.

Other non-traditional candidates include those with no employment experience, gaps in their employment history, criminal records, or newly-retired people who want to supplement their income.

What are the benefits of hiring non-traditional candidates?

Employers who add extra requirements to job postings limit the pool of candidates they receive. Barriers like needing a bachelor’s degree or only accepting applications for those without convictions are some examples of this.

Non-traditional employees may not always have the education required, but they often have skills learned from years of being on the job or through alternative education. Although not recognized right away, a non-traditional worker could have skills that unlock hidden potential.

Another benefit of employing an alternative employee is the array of soft skills they will often bring to the table. For example, those with experience teaching or serving may have developed excellent communication and leadership skills.

Recruiting employees from an array of different backgrounds and experiences can expose your company to a stronger talent pool. By being open-minded and looking past what looks good on paper, you can hire people that can approach a problem with a fresh perspective.

Veterans, caregivers, formerly incarcerated people, those who have recovered from substance abuse, immigrants, and newly retired people are some examples of non-traditional employees.

What are some non-traditional recruitment methods?

Employers should aim to support diversity and inclusion, when possible, at every stage of the hiring process.

To do so, when hiring employees, it is important to consider candidates’ potential, not just their credentials and work history. Some professions won’t have as much leniency as others. Doctors, lawyers, and nurses, for example, all need to have certain qualifications to practice. For others, career pathways will not be so linear.

Employers should aim to expand their search criteria by looking for workers who aren’t already participating in the labour market. It’s not about having a checklist of requirements and only hiring those who meet all of them.

When companies adopt a skills-based approach, they open up a path to the untapped labour pool. Here are a few ways you can broaden your horizons when finding and hiring non-traditional employees.

Communicate your culture

One of the ways employers can begin to be more accepting of employees from non-linear backgrounds is to create new values. By communicating your intention to be accepting of these types of employees, more candidates can feel welcome to apply.

Remove barriers

Removing barriers to job search criteria, such as criminal histories and bachelor’s degrees, is a key way for employers to open the hiring pool to non-traditional candidates.

Promote your intention

Make sure your hiring strategy promotes your intention to hire non-traditional workers. This will communicate your company’s aim to welcome non-traditional employees.

Do you need help updating your HR policies?

Protect your business by having a well-drafted hiring policy in place that outlines your goal to employ non-traditional employees. Our HR advisors can help you create, update, and review company policies, as well as provide any advice you may need on HRhealth and safety, or employee management.

To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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