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How to find candidates with the crossover skills you need

How to find candidates with the crossover skills you need

With Covid-19 lockdowns and slow re-openings, many employers have had to make the difficult decision to lay off or furlough part or all of their workforces. While this is a tough reality, it can also present a silver lining and opportunity for some businesses that are still hiring to consider workers who’ve been made unemployed from other industries, but bring valuable crossover skills to the table.

Just a few short months ago, we were faced with shortages and shrinking talent pools. Now, practically overnight, there are many unemployed people who could be perfect for your open roles. Not only do you have a bigger talent pool to work with, but you can help struggling people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own back to work – it’s a win-win.

The challenge is figuring out how to identify which crossover skills can transfer seamlessly to your open positions. Recruiters have a unique opportunity to tap into people who lost jobs in hard-hit industries. Even if in theory they seem like entirely different candidates than you’d normally target, their resumes are worth a closer look. They just might have enough crossover skills that make them worthy for further screening.

The key is to start looking at the soft skills of employees from industries that have heavy layoffs, says Ryan Bishop, Senior National Accounts Executive for Monster. “For example, the insurance industry is still very busy and requires a lot of customer service,” he says. Therefore, anyone with heavy customer service in their background could potentially be trainable talent that insurance agencies can bring on.

What are crossover skills?

Crossover skills are often intangible, but they also happen to be some of the most critical success factors in hiring, says Kristen Fowler, practice lead at Clarke Caniff, a strategic search firm specializing in the retail, hospitality, luxury, and services sectors. “Customer service, decision making, oral and written communication and organization are some examples,” she says.

The idea is that if a person has these foundational skills – even if they were applied in a totally different job – they can easily adapt to a new situation. In fact, there are some crossover skills that may be especially attractive in a post-Covid world. These include:

Experience working remotely

 “Remote-ready employees are on an advantage in this season because of the social distancing measures imposed upon by the authorities,” says Michael Hammelburger, CEO at The Bottom Line Group, an expense reduction consulting firm. “Thus, those with skills that can easily be applied to online activities are a priority.”

To pinpoint candidates who will be able to thrive in a remote position, Hammelburger says he  starts by recognizing those who do a good job managing their personal brands, and have evidence on their resume that shows adaptability to critical situations. Finally, he flags those who have taken recent training to upskill. “This is very important to reflect how eager they are to pursue lifelong learning,” says Hammelburger.

Technical/app skills or experience

Candidates with technical or app development skills should be able to find work within companies that are strategizing on how to build their remote capabilities, says Charlette Beasley, careers and workplace analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com.

For example, some businesses are setting up systems that will allow customers to place orders online through an app rather than physically entering the store. “They’ll need workers with tech support skills to navigate this transition and ensure a seamless, customer experience,” says Beasley.

Project management and related experience

“If recruiters aren’t looking at everything outside of the basic skills necessary to manage a specific role, they will miss so many qualified candidates,” says Beth Scherer, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, senior human resources consultant at CBIZ Human Resources and Benefits Administration Services.

“It’s the deeper dive of skills that you want to search out – what kind of projects have they managed, what communication plans have they used for big and small issues, how have they handled team strife, etc.,” she says.

One way to seek out those skills, says Scherer, is not being afraid of candidates with gaps on their resume, or someone coming from a completely different industry. “All can have some hidden gems that might be the right fit for your team,” she says. “Processes and job function skills can be trained – it’s everything else that should be the key to finding the right hire.”

Customer service and hospitality

“Retail and hospitality associates have to consistently work to please their customers and make quick decisions to support sales and leave a customer satisfied,” says Fowler. Those customer-facing skills can transfer to a variety of positions and industries from call centers to sales to financial services – all of which might have an increase in hiring demand right now.

For more strategies to help you get through the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath, stay up to date with the latest insights and tips in our Coronavirus Resource Center.