The world of work is changing, everyone is talking about it in New Work. This also has an impact on candidates, their way of applying for a job, and their career path: The classic, straightforward resume is becoming less and less common. What are the advantages of this trend for applicants and what should employers look out for?

“My father worked in the engine room of trans-oceanic ships before completing his education and becoming a psychologist. It was the same with my mother: she got her bachelor’s and master’s in German philology before going on to work as a commodities trader on wall street. After years on the trading desk, she switched careers and became a math teacher.”…

It shows that flexible and unusual CVs are not a shortcoming, quite the opposite. However, my parents live in the USA. A zigzag career path has always been more common there, whereas, in Germany, a straight career path was the rule for a long time.

But the change is also evident in Germany, and as a result, the appreciation and acceptance of unusual CVs are steadily increasing. The focus is now more on the commitment and motivation of a candidate as well as special skills (like mad skills) and their unique background.

Therefore, instead of concentrating on the “red thread” that used to be so important, focus instead on the requirements of the new job – and what skills you bring to it?

As an applicant, you should answer 3 key questions:

What transferable skills have you developed?

  • Highlight the skills that are relevant for the position you want and show how you developed them.

What about your background makes you uniquely qualified?

  • Make it clear how your “atypical” career history can help you in the job you’re applying for.

What about this new position excites you?

  • Make sure you can communicate why you want to make the change and what you’re excited about.

As an employer, other points are important. If you receive an “atypical” CV, pay attention to the following:

Which “hard skills” are really necessary for the employee to have from the start, and which can be learned on the job?

  • If the applicant’s educational and professional background shows that they know how to learn and they show you that they are motivated, you should consider giving them the chance to learn the hard skills.

How important is “identical” past experience, does someone need 5 to 10 years of experience in the same position that you are looking to fill?

  • Most people looking to move jobs are looking to take the next step or find a new challenge.  If they already have years of experience in the same role you are looking to fill, what exactly are you offering them? Where is the advancement or the challenge?  You might consider expanding your definition of “relevant experience”.

Are you underestimating the value of diverse experience or a team with diverse professional backgrounds?

  • An overly homogeneous team might cost you creative problem-solving. It can also cause you to miss out on an experience that you hadn’t even realised the relevance of.

“While there are specific skills and knowledge that are important for certain careers, in my experience, there is rarely one right career path. It is important to recognise the value of diverse experience, motivation, and unique competencies. Your professional development, as a candidate, or the strength of your team, as an employer, can almost always benefit from diversity, different perspectives, and unique experience”.

This article was written by Elaine W. Long, Consultant in Finance at LHC International

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