5 Ways to Hire Smarter _ Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

Over the past couple of months, I continue to look for creative ways to help our clients find more talent in a very tight employment market.  Many of the calls I receive are for entry level wholesale, retail or business development roles. I wish I could tell you it’s going to get better sometime soon however, statistics suggest otherwise.

I believe many Owners, Executives and hiring authorities at all levels across the highly specialized Furniture and Big-Ticket industry channels appear to have some bias towards hiring candidates without specific and or direct experience within our industry. This is not without merit, of course, since we all would all love to check off every box on meeting all the requirements for a position job description.

For some reason we think this cottage industry is so specialized and I think that needs to be revisited.  More emphasis on identifying core competencies and traits and history in top performers can lead us to a larger pool of talent.  We need to attract people into this amazing industry. I fell into it by chance as a part time working college student many years ago and I never looked back.  

There are some companies that understand that Sales and Customer Engagement are key to the front line and back office roles and they have figured out the formula.  They are looking outside our industry to find applicable transferable skills and the result is they are expanding their pool of candidates to choose from and finding some hidden gem talent from other retail, wholesale and service channels.

In a competitive labor market, we suggest you look for transferable skills and applicable expertise and then outline them with your team so you can clearly identify these traits in the interview process and apply them to each position.  

According to a study by FORTUNE the Unfilled jobs cost the U.S. economy $160 billion a year. Instead of “trying to take the risk out of hiring by looking only at people with a specific set of skills and experience,” he says, “we’re seeing more employers — including big ones like Procter & Gamble and Accenture, who have operated this way for a long time — first assessing candidates’ attitudes and behaviors to find the right ‘fit’ and then training them for the available jobs.”

Those companies look carefully at the traits of their current, proven top performers, then come up with a profile of who is most likely to succeed, and hire people who match the profile, even if their skills and experience aren’t ideal. Says D’Arcy, “It takes a willingness to make a long-term investment in creating your own internal talent pool.”

Sheer frustration with the lack of perfect candidates will drive more employers to go this route, he adds. “Most organizations today still use the same rigid approach to hire that just doesn’t work anymore, and inventing what comes next is hard,” he says. “But I think we’re seeing the beginning of a trend.”

So, you can see where we are going with this trend and recommendation.  

Here is a how-to guide on assessing candidates with transferable skills, but no industry experience:

Employers by and large concur: When it comes to hiring, an ideal candidate is one with experience. However, there's something else business owners also agree upon - experience isn't everything, especially when job candidates bring other desirable qualities to the table.

According to findings from the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study, close to 80 percent of employer respondents either somewhat agree or strongly agreed with the statement that they're more likely to extend job offers to people with transferable skills, but who lack industry experience due to increased difficulty finding qualified talent.

Interestingly, however, candidates aren't always aware of employers' flexibility. Just 50 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agreed that companies seriously consider applicants with tangible skills, but who lack industry experience.

This is a key finding for employers to recognize, one that they may consider factoring into how they advertise job openings, so candidates are fully aware.

That being said, candidates don't always mention transferable skills on resumes or in interviews. Thus, businesses must endeavor to identify them during the hiring process.

Here are a few tips that can help you assess inexperienced job candidates whose marketable skills could make them the ideal people to fill open positions:


Enthusiastic employees are engaged employees. When workers are excited about the job functions they serve, they're more likely to perform well because they're eager to learn, improve and achieve results. Try to spot evidence of potential workers' passion for previous work, as well as for the job to which they're applying. This may be found in their resumes, such as if they were ever "Employee of the Month," but also in the interview itself.


The interview is only a small moment in time that provides a snapshot of what candidates are like and can offer. It can be difficult to identify all their transferable skills inside of 30 to 60 minutes. You may want to pre-screen them, so you have an idea of what they're like before they arrive. Social media can provide a sneak peek into their backstory. In a recent poll conducted by CareerBuilder, nearly 60 percent of employers who acknowledged using social networking for researching job candidates did so to better identify their qualifications. Fifty percent said they also used Twitter and Facebook to get a sense of their level of professionalism.


Hiring solely based on experience can be tricky because it's not necessarily indicative of how well applicants will perform in the short-term, or the long-term. They may lack the temperament or desire to take their talents to new heights.

The ideal is a combination of both, noted Johansson Consulting CEO Anna Johansson. Writing in the Huffington Post, Johansson stated that potential is particularly worthwhile, because it's more inclusive and broadens the pool of prospective hires. It also makes the hiring process in general less taxing.

"It's a lot easier to find and hire a candidate who has potential than to track down someone who has years of experience and is available for hiring," Johansson wrote. "A business is also much less likely to overrate potential than experience...which has become a problem over the years."

How do you spot it? Experts say potential is manifested through indications of enthusiasm, such as curiosity, inquisitiveness, determination, insight and emotional intelligence. Asking probing questions can draw these qualities out.

No candidate is perfect, nor is any hiring method. However, being more open-minded and evaluating applicants beyond credentials and specific industry experience, can help employers’ home in on the right person whose transferable skills can have a huge impact within the company.


Look at your existing top performers in each functional area.  No successful top performer has the perfect ideal background; however, I think you may find some things in existing employee’s backgrounds that may present a guidepost or light bulb moment.  Was it running a family business at an early age, working through college and balancing the book work with the real work?

Go back to the pre-screening bullet and you can discover much more about people today by just looking at social media and their background beyond the resume that may be in front of you.  


Always ask a basic top grading question - take me back to your High School days and bring me forward with your career history?  A top candidate can remember details and can move forward

and bring you up to why they are sitting in front of you today within 5-10 minutes.  During this time, you’ll discover a literal treasure trove of information. This typically will include information   about the candidate’s work history, and it could uncover those traits you feel align with other successful people within your organization.

This is a great way to test cognitive ability without a personality test by just having them answer this question. If someone cannot present a road map and present a coherent career history, how do they know where they should go in their employment quest.

So, there you have it, some ideas, tips and other tools to apply to capture more talent that is out there within your reach.  

I believe we never can stop learning and growing. If you have a favorite type of hiring tip you would like to share, please send me a note.  bill@connectorteamrecruiting.com

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in 2019 as a Top Recruitment Firm by Forbes Magazine.



Candidate Tip – Improve your personal brand during times of dramatic change | Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

When there is major change at an organization, it’s never an easy transition for employees like you who remain with the company. After all, you’ve given many months and even years to the business. There’s a good chance you’ve spent more time with your manager and fellow employees than with some of your closest friends during that period. 

Nearly every executive with a career of significant length will most likely experience a dramatic change or shift within their company. These include; a leadership change, a massive restructuring or a change of control according to Bill O’Malley, Executive Recruiter.  However, when there an organizational change – you’ll want to do your best to ensure you’re in the optimal position for future advancement at the organization. If you’re an all-star employee, chances are you’ll be asked to stay on with the company. That can mean a big opportunity for you to achieve growth and career advancement. 

Therefore, it’s important that you’re prepared to gain the skills you need, to be as successful as possible, during this potentially tumultuous time. According to a Forbes article by John Feldmann, this process, called upskilling, can be a crucial part of a changing company. “By upskilling current employees, companies can fill open positions while retaining their current workforce by creating learning opportunities,” he notes.  

Here are three strategies you can follow when your company goes through big changes and you want to make the most of the situation:

 1. Speak with the company’s leadership to understand the skills they need most

As soon as you find out that your company is going through change, speak with your manager as well as with any other company leaders you trust with your career. By doing so, you’ll show that you’re eager to learn more about the situation and are willing to do whatever it takes to help the company move forward.

That’s something the Harvard Business Review recommends in an article about difficult reorganizations: “Once you’ve absorbed the planned changes, you need to think about what they mean for your day-to-day responsibilities and your potential job satisfaction.”

 After requesting to speak with leadership, take some time to think about the value you can bring to your organization. Reflect on the successes you’ve had, so that you can highlight them during these meetings. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll show your manager and others that you have an impressive ability to plan and a commitment to succeeding when times are tough.

During these meetings, it’s also important to ask what they’ll be looking for most from the team after the change has been enacted. Their answers can give you valuable information on how you can train and upskill yourself in the coming months.

 2. Make use of online platforms that can help you learn

 After a reorganization, responsibilities and roles are often condensed, so it’s all hands-on deck. You may find that you’re now responsible for new day-to-day tasks that you hadn’t previously performed. Having spoken with company leadership, you will be one step ahead, with invaluable knowledge to help you succeed in the new environment.

The next step is to learn as much as possible and gain the skills necessary for advancement. Helpful websites include LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. Both offer thousands of online tutorials, taught by world-renowned experts, that can truly help you thrive during this pivotal moment in your career and your company’s journey.

Consider taking courses in topics such as: 

-       Leadership and management

-       Data science

-       Business software and tools

-       Communication and public speaking

 3. Consider enrolling in a certificate or degree program

Beyond learning about potential growth opportunities and taking one-off online courses, you can turn upcoming organizational change into a chance to go back to school or earn a certificate to boost your skill set. 

While online learning platforms are great for gaining knowledge about specific subjects, getting a master’s degree or a certificate from an accredited institution can make you truly invaluable. Many reputable universities now offer online master’s programs, making it that much easier for working professionals to continue their education.  

There are many instances where your company can help you achieve this goal. For example, some organizations have tuition reimbursement or assistance programs that can help you earn a degree at a reduced rate. To begin this process, simply read through your employee benefits resource information or contact the human resources department. 

Additionally, you should initiate a conversation with your manager once you start considering enrolling in an educational program. This will do a couple important things: first, it’ll express your commitment to upward mobility at your company. It will also help you to determine workplace flexibility opportunities, that potentially can include adjustments to your work schedule to make a degree program work for you (and your team). 

Ultimately, transformation at your company doesn’t have to be frightening, or damaging to your career. Instead, use this period as a time for self-growth and to gain new skills. You’ll then be able to pivot to bigger roles and more responsibilities in the wake of major change.

Hire a Perennial | Connector Team Recruiting.jpg

We find that nearly every company is looking for a new talent pool or channel to market their jobs to the all important entry level skill positions.  I’ve recently been hearing about the perennial candidates (workers aged 55 and older) and it reminded me of this great opportunity and a labor segment that people can tend to ignore because of misinformation and perception. This worker segment is generally retired and wanting a job to stay busy or currently employed and looking for a second income.

How large is this talent pool?

So why is this an attractive hiring target. Let’s look at the numbers.  In the 30-year span from 1994 to 2024, workers aged 55 and older will go from being the smallest segment of the US working population to the largest, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to a prominent Stanford Professor Laura Carsensen, she believes its America’s older citizens who are the Nation’s greatest unused resource.

Think about that last statement. If you can tap into this resource, you’ll find your company will have a new recruiting channel to focus on.  Whether you operate a store, a distribution center a manufacturing plant or a call center you surely have knowledge-based jobs that are currently unfilled. These jobs require committed people and in many of these roles they interact with your internal or external customers.

Eliminating the myth about older workers

First and foremost, let’s try to dispel the myth that older workers are slow and less productive. Here is some research about the perception that older workers are less productive? The AARP found exciting new research by German economist Axel Borsch-Supan. He found that there is some reduction in productivity for very unskilled jobs. But with knowledge-based jobs, you see an increase in productivity with age. Then it levels off. It doesn’t go down.

Early career in my career as a Regional Manager overseeing Operations/HR and all Hiring in Southern California where we had a labor shortage at the time, I came across this labor pool purely by accident and a bit of desperation at the time. We tapped into this pool for Office and Customer Service roles within the company.  The myth and bias including my own that I had to break down included; older workers tend to be more methodical and slower. I found just the opposite was true, in fact; they proved to be very committed, had lower absenteeism rates and had higher overall accuracy. My experience with two hires that I recall from this period Connie and Jan, were dependable, hard-working and loyal. In fact, they were so good I still remember their names 20 plus years later .

How do you hire older workers?  Think flex options and a 20 to 25-hour workweeks. I tend to believe that 25-hour weeks and more part time flex schedules are  going to gain even more popularity in the next decade as the projected labor shortage continues and this segment of the population ages.

There are lots of resources on social media where you can tap into organizations and senior centers to post your jobs and source this additional pool of talent.

Start a conversation with your team

I know it’s a tough environment, I hear it from my clients every day across the country. The next time someone says, “we can’t find any qualified people for the role” you have a great  opportunity to start a conversation with your team about this segment. Start by responding with, let’s have a meeting and talk about ways we can tap into the Perennial workforce. Involve HR in the conversation, they most likely already understand this segment and they can help in the sourcing and resource effort.

So, there you have it, go out and hire a Perennial and tap into this growing segment.  I can almost guarantee that injecting some of this talent and knowledge into your workforce will also have plus Benefits.