“To Everything, There Is a Season”: Why Employers Should Keep an Open Mind to Non-Traditional Candidates

New job eds

Too often in the hiring process, candidates whose resumes stray from the traditional “step-by-step” career mold are pushed aside and overlooked.

Why? Because some hiring managers believe:

  • A candidate with a gap on their resume means they are unable to “hold down a job”
  • A leader backstepping into an individual contributor role will not have a clue, or interest, in rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done
  • Older candidates will not be successful because they are slow, technically challenged, and do not have relevant experience
  • Career changers are flaky and unreliable
  • Candidates who do not finish a degree or certification are not committed to their careers


The list goes on! However, the misconception that these candidates are “lacking skills” could prevent employers from finding their next all-star employee.


These candidates might have chosen to:

  • Travel the world for a year before embarking on major life commitments
    • The Upside: An employee is apt to understand cultural differences and embrace diversity
  • Prioritize time with parents or children in a time of need
    • The Upside: An employee understands commitment, priorities and will be more present at work
  • Honor their passions and talents
    • The Upside: An employee has an outside perspective and an ability to mentor by example
  • Redirect their energy toward more personally fulfilling work
    • The Upside: A happier employee who loves coming to work
  • Not seeking a degree because the ability to make money will surpass the need for a formal education
    • The Upside: Debt-free and focused


Recruiters see resumes like the above all the time. Some will support a hiring manager’s request to meet a more conventional background, and others will work with these candidates to find out their backstory and then challenge a hiring manager’s stereotype.

So how can these candidates best present themselves to recruiters? By not being defensive about any of the perceived traditional stereotypes and focus on the authentic reasons for why they made their decisions. No apologies necessary! “To everything, there is a season” and owning those seasons makes us human, and with the right fit…great future employees. Recruiters and hiring managers: keep an open mind in how you present and perceive information. You might be on your way to your next best hire.