Should you hire a career changer?

Rieva Lesonsky

These days there’s a lot of talk about the difficulty of finding job candidates with adequate skills, education and/or experience to fill open positions.

If you’re struggling find a new employee with the qualities you’re looking for, perhaps you should consider hiring someone who’s changing careers. Almost six of 10 working adults are interested in making a career change, a new study by the University of Phoenix School of Business reveals.

Lack of opportunity, boredom and burnout with their current fields are among the primary reasons respondents gave for wanting to change careers.

These aren’t just entry-level twenty-something job-hoppers, either. People in their 30s and those making $75,000-$100,000 a year are the most likely to be interested in a career change.

Hiring a career changer can seem like a big risk. But, in fact, it can have a lot of benefits.

Career changers tend to be flexible. By switching careers, they are showing that they’re open to learning new things and not afraid of change.

Career changers are ambitious. Why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who’s looking for an interesting, rewarding and stimulating job? A career changer is not likely to become complacent or be content just doing the bare minimum.

Career changers are risk takers. Being comfortable with risk is a valuable characteristic in an employee.

Career changers can bring a new perspective to your business. Seeing your business operations from an outsider’s perspective can help you shake up the way you’ve always done things.

Of course, there are different reasons someone may want to change careers, so be sure to ask probing questions to determine whether the person is just looking for more money or something else that your business can’t offer.

Also look for career changers who have:

Transferable skills. A customer service employee’s listening and problem-solving skills may translate into being a good salesperson. Working as a journalist could translate into being a good marketing or public relations person.

Valuable connections. A career changer can bring useful connections to your business. Check into their LinkedIn and other social media contacts. Get a sense of how actively they network, both online and in person.

A track record of success. Assess the person’s resume looking for measurable results. People with a track record of achievement are likely to continue setting high standards for themselves, no matter what industry or role they are in.

A passion for learning. Successful career changers will show a history of learning new things, being proactive and taking on new duties. Try putting the career changer into a real-life testing situation and see how they learn on the spot and handle the duties of the job.

The right personality. Look for a personality and attitude that fit with your business culture and will work well with your other employees. When it comes to career changers in particular, attitude matters most of all.

By giving careful thought to hiring a career changer, you can ensure you choose the right person for the job. The results can change not only the person’s life, but your business, for the better.

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