Transferable skills

Why recruiters need to explore transferable skills when sourcing candidates

Sarah Linney
24 Aug
Reading time: 5 minutes
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Wondering how your recruitment agency can expand its talent pool and source quality candidates in a tight talent market? Take a look at transferable skills.

Transferable skills are skills that apply to a range of roles, such as communication and leadership, allowing you to consider candidates that may not directly match job descriptions. 

Efficient and experienced professionals could be overlooked because recruiters don’t explore their transferable skills and take a creative look at their backgrounds. 

To better understand transferable skills and how recruiters can look out for them, we connected with the professional development program Beyond the Badge, which provides a formalised coaching and mentoring pathway to support members of the first responder community (think police, paramedics and firefighters) who are ready for new employment opportunities.

We recently chatted to Sean Haran and Simon Bradstock, founders of Beyond the Badge, about why it’s crucial that recruiters think outside the box and explore transferable skills when conducting candidate sourcing. 

Why is it so important that recruiters look beyond just matching a resume to a job description when sourcing candidates?

Sean: There’s still a traditional approach in recruitment today of matching a job description with a resume to find the perfect candidate. If that’s the only method of finding great employees, we believe companies are missing out on an enormous opportunity. 

If they fail to look past the resume and start to look at a trajectory view of what potential candidates could bring in the future, rather than a bland look at, “yes they can do this job right now,” then it’s definitely a missed opportunity.

For example, if there was a role at ABC Company for an Account Manager and there were two applicants. Applicant A had held three Account Manager roles previously and was known as a reliable worker who gets the job done. Applicant B had spent 25 years in policing and was looking for his first job outside. For the recruiter, the simplest and likeliest match would be applicant A. It’s likely that his resume would perfectly match the requirements of the job application and he could hit the ground running and do the job. 

Simon: In that example, while Applicant B may not have been able to provide the perfect match with his resume by looking deeper into the person and the potential of this person who has dedicated 25 years of his life to his community. Someone who has the learned ability to be thrown into any situation (from minor theft to murder, or a multiple fatality crash at peak hour) and calmly deal with panicked and traumatised victims and bystanders, make the scene safe and secure, commence an investigation, deal with and manage multiple stakeholders, manage a complex investigation and multi-agency taskforce, arrest multiple offenders and compile a comprehensive brief of evidence for court. 

In terms of what this applicant’s potential is and what he might bring to the hiring company in the future (with some basic job skills training), it’s a huge untapped resource that’s generally overlooked in the world of recruiting. I know if I was running a company and wanted people working for me who would go that extra yard and seek out and resolve issues, I would always look to a first responder.

What are some transferable skills that recruiters may overlook when sourcing talent?

Sean: There are some important transferable skills that recruiters may not explore when sourcing candidates. For first responders, they have strongly developed communication skills, they’re excellent negotiators, they’re very skilled at persuading and they have very strong and tested skills in reporting information, both verbal and written and their interviewing skills are second to none. All these things they do day to day.

Their interpersonal skills are also really transferable. They can build and develop rapport with others and are great at motivating people, both internal and external to their organisation. 

Simon: They also have superior supervisory and leadership skills as they’re used to making decisions under pressure and managing conflict well. They’re also able to coordinate tasks, delegate responsibility and manage change. These are all skill sets that all first responders learn, develop and test in real-world situations on any given day. They make great employees.

We’re running a webinar with JobAdder where we’ll go through all the transferable skills of first responders, so it’s a good one to check out if you’re a recruiter in Australia or New Zealand. 

How can recruiters get in the habit of identifying and utilising transferable skills in potential candidates?

Sean: I think there is a growing need to start to think outside the traditional box, expecting successful placements to come out of a job description and a matching resume is just too easy. We’re seeing so many amazing people who are wanting to move out of first responder agencies who struggle to get past first base in the traditional recruitment model. 

Simon: That was the key reason we set up Beyond The Badge – to bridge that gap between these amazing people who are, when given the opportunity, proving they can be of great value to a range of employers and industries. They may not tick every box to get the perfect match in the recruiters’ eyes – but if they just took the time to look a bit further – they would find people who are able to adapt and excel in any challenge put in front of them. That is essentially what they have been doing for years.

To discover more insights about how first responders could address your candidate sourcing challenges, register for our webinar now.

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