Are You Overlooking a Diamond in the Rough While Recruiting?


What do Charlize Theron, John Wayne and Natalie Portman have in common? They all lacked any industry experience when they were discovered. Though you’re not recruiting future Oscar winners for your office, there’s a lesson to be learned: Direct experience isn't everything. Always keep an eye peeled for that "diamond in the rough."

There are some candidates who don’t necessarily sparkle on paper. They also might not perfectly match every last demand of your job description or may get a bit tongue-tied during interviews, due to nerves or sheer inexperience. However, when put to the test, these workers can often outperform their colleagues.

Here are five tips to help ensure you don't let these candidates slip past you.

1. Look within
Before you begin the hiring process, consider your current employees who outshine the rest. What makes them ideal admins? Which traits do you value the most? Make a list of those qualities, and keep them in mind when you start recruiting.

2. Don't rule out on-the-job training
Everyone has a dream candidate, and you may find applicants who possess all the skills and experience you're after. On the flip side, you’ll also come across many who don’t completely fit the job description. Before you actively begin the hiring process, get very clear on which skills are must-haves, and which you’d merely like to have. If you’re willing to do some onsite training, you can take a chance on a candidate who shows enormous potential, but may lack a skill or two.

3. Go beyond the resume
While resumes are an important factor in screening potential hires, they don’t always provide the best picture of every candidate. Of course, you might not want someone who’s prone to typos or comma abuse sending emails to your clients. However, some people just aren’t great at writing resumes. If you spot a resume with writing that doesn’t blow your hair back, but with qualities that raise your eyebrows, maybe it's worth giving that candidate a shot.

4. Dig deeper in the interview
For many applicants, interviews are the most nerve-racking part of the hiring process, especially if they’ve been in the job market for a while. It’s your job as interviewer to put them at ease as best you can. Some candidates will still be too nervous to open up completely. To lessen the risk of passing over candidates with stellar potential, build a skill assessment into the interview. For example, you can ask candidates to complete a brief work sample in Word or Excel to help gauge their abilities. You might end up dazzled by their competency, if not by their interview skills. 

5. Go with your gut
Intuition is often undervalued on the part of hiring managers. If you’ve got a strong feeling about a candidate who has a less-than-amazing resume or was slow to warm up in the interview, it may be worth it to give him or her a try.

When you’re recruiting, don’t be instantly discouraged by factors like “just-okay” resumes or a lack of skills that could be taught later. This is not to say you should ignore obvious red flags. But if you're willing to look beyond the paper profile and get to know the person, you may land your office’s next administrative star.