One of the hardest things to do, even for an experienced career coach or recruiter, is to understand and truly digest the profile of a person who has a versatile career.
That is, someone who is talented enough they can perform different functions, or someone with different passions and interests who has decided to change and try opposite things in their professional life.
This can lead to companies missing out on wonderful talent and on the other side, wonderful talent also missing out on nesting opportunities to grow and make important contributions to companies and to society itself.
There is a misconception that the more specialized the talent, the better. This can work beautifully in most cases. But more often than not, people with versatile careers are misunderstood both because of the strong belief that talent can only specialized and because it is truly hard to explain their value.
Sometimes it is simply a mislabeling problem where the person hasn’t been able to best identify their professional role as it fits into their experience in the big picture. For instance, a passionate mathematician who has tried everything from finance to engineering, when asked, says his real passion is statistics and big data management. He always had a hard time selling those specific skills because, although he followed his passion, he never based his job search around being a statistics expert. In fact, none of his jobs revolved around that although that’s the tool he used to be successful.
Another very common case is where someone comes to the US to work for the first time. The global job market doesn’t value specialization as much as the US job market does. When people are looking for a job here, they typically have a hard time understanding that contrary to what they think, performing organizational functions is not valued here like it is in Europe, Latin America or Australia. It takes work to adapt and to understand these type of profiles. Nonetheless, they can bring amazing added value to any business.
Based on these facts, here’s a list of strategies to help you identify talent in people with complex or versatile careers:
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Embrace the Difference.
Don’t discard the person just because they don’t have a traditional career path. If you have the feeling the person has something to offer, call them and set up an interview. Remember to trust your gut feelings.
Ask Why the Changes.
You may be surprised at the answers you get. Some will tell you the companies they worked for made it mandatory to gain experience in all areas of the organization; others will say that’s how it is where they come from; some will say they couldn’t find their passion until later in life; others will be surprised and will ask you what changes? They have always been doing statistics.
Ask Where They Can Contribute Best.
When deciding on where to use versatile talent, it’s good to keep in mind the best way to understand how to use them. So ask them what they can do best and then tell them to give you specific examples.
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Think in Terms of the Use of Resources.
Sometimes it’s better to hire an engineer who has worked in all areas of manufacturing or project management and understands how everything comes together than one who specializes in only one part of the job. This is particularly true if your company is small or mid-sized.
People with complex and versatile career paths have plenty to contribute and the companies that begin to recognize and specially take advantage of this opportunity will see short term gains. Of course, not all companies and positions can benefit from these profiles but certainly many more can. You need to hear that from a versatile person like myself who's been through it all!.
In other words, think of what can be convenient for your business right now. Innovation is thinking out-of-the-box when it comes to hiring also. Learn to read between lines and to hire those with imported and sometimes unconventional talent.