Hire Outside the Box: Why Nontraditional Candidates Can Be Game Changers  

Hire Outside the Box: Why Nontraditional Candidates Can Be Game Changers  

Have you ever hired potential candidates after looking at their degrees, certifications, and many other credentials, only to find out that they don’t really have what you’re looking for? Well, you’re not alone! 

Everyone knows how the COVID-19 pandemic made a huge impact in every sector of our world. Not only did it uncover hidden troubles in our society, but it also amplified growing issues in today’s workforce like the tech talent shortage, the skills gap, and the need for better flexibility in working conditions. 

Like fuel added to the fire, this was even more intensified by the rapid growth of inflation rates across countries, geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe and between the US and China, and talks of emerging recession. 

Hiring, along with many parts of our daily lives, has become more challenging than ever. Everyone must have felt this sudden shift and as an employer, we’re sure you did too.  

We’re here to help you with these emerging issues so let’s start with the data.  

What Does the Data Say? 

According to Gartner, 56 percent of job candidates are applying for jobs outside their area of expertise.¹ This means that people from different backgrounds, with unique skills and experiences, are leaving their careers!  

When you think about it, job qualifications should have that wiggle room that you can reconsider. Ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Have you thought of having fewer qualifications for a position?  
  2. Is a college degree more important than skills and culture fit?  
  3. Do you have easier and faster hiring processes for candidates in the same industry? 
  4. Do candidates have to possess all the skills, or can some be considered preferred? 

Because if not, maybe it’s time for you to try non-traditional ways of hiring. Not only can it solve your worries, but it also eases the pain of candidates applying for jobs. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone—but with a positive impact! 

Time to Change the Old-Fashioned Hiring Process 

Time is changing. Our technology is moving fast, and our preferences are creating new norms. This means we have to find new ways of doing things in the office—like changing the hiring process.  

Relying on college degrees alone has been a mistake of the past. Even today, many regard college degrees as the highest qualification for finding the top candidate. Unfortunately, studies show this method has not been very successful in answering the need of the 21st-Century workforce.  

Three out of four employers are unsatisfied with hiring college graduates because they don’t exactly fit the company’s culture, or they don’t have the soft skills employers are looking for like competent communication skills, critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork.²  

Some graduates even lack the hard skills needed for the job, especially in tech.³ The advancement of technology has clearly outpaced academia, leaving a huge gap in college graduates. 

As a recruiting partner, we are here to help you solve the talent shortage and the widening skills gap by finding the right candidate for your company.  

Credential Should Not Overshadow Potential 

That’s where non-traditional methods come in! 

Companies are now starting to look at candidates’ potential to learn and what soft skills they have, instead of just their credentials and educational background. 

Putting more importance on a candidate’s skills and overall fit allows companies to attract more job seekers and find more people suitable to fill positions in the longer term. By doing this, they are even creating a more inclusive hiring process by allowing women and minorities to have access to more opportunities.  

Companies like Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and Bank of America have already dropped the college degree requirement for most roles in their company. Instead, they are focusing more on demonstrated skills and experiences. Even Google’s software engineers and product managers are not required to be computer science graduates.  

But that’s not to say that specific skills are no longer important. Certain positions like software development and cybersecurity positions still require specific skillset. It’s just that soft skills are now becoming equally valuable as hard skills.  

Investing in Your Talent 

If you want to widen your talent pool and have a diverse workforce, investing in your talent is the answer! 

The talent shortage and the skills gap are not going away anytime soon. You have to recognize that your employees need to learn new skills to maintain your company’s growth. Instead of solely relying on finding the perfect candidate and spending valuable time competing with different employers, consider investing in your current team.  

Introducing tech education training to upskill your employees in different areas can help with retention and make them more proficient and productive.  

This makes a lot of sense since the changes in the global economy are largely affected by digital transformation. By making your employees highly proficient with your organization’s tech stack, you are also putting them in a position to be more competent and productive as digital immigrants. 

Growth for Talent, Growth for the Company 

This is also the perfect moment to reskill your employees. Learned skills like handling big data, computer programming, and software development, are all in demand where talent shortage is common.  

Consider training your current employees or even your new hires to master these skills. By tapping into their potential and teaching them new skills, you can help reduce the skills gap. 

You can also mentor and teach them more about leadership. Assign a mentor in your organization to focus on honing specific skills among a select group of employees. Mentorship is also an excellent avenue for your new hires to learn and absorb the company culture.  


Investing in talent may not be the solution to finally remedy the talent shortage or the skills gap. However, it is a step in the right direction of bringing workers closer to the skills that they need to master to truly help in transforming and impacting your organization in the long run. 

So, the next time you’re hiring, consider non-traditional ways of hiring candidates who may have unique experiences and skills to offer. By hiring outside the box, you may find game-changers who can take your company to the next level! 

Portfolio Creative is a specialized recruiting firm that you can partner with for your marketing and creative talent needs. Invest in the top talent for your company with Portfolio Creative. Talk to us today! 


1 McRae, Emily Rose. “9 Future of Work Trends For 2023.” Gartner, Dec. 22, 2022, https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/9-future-of-work-trends-for-2023

2 “Employers Say Students Aren’t Learning Soft Skills in College.” SHRM, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/employers-say-students-arent-learning-soft-skills-in-college.aspx. Mar. 8, 2023. 

3 “Employers Say College Grads Lack Hard Skills, Too.” SHRM, https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/Employers-Say-College-Grads-Lack-Hard-Skills-Too.aspx. Mar. 8, 2023.