Recruiting ‘outside the box’

by Laura Andress ([email protected]) 624 views 

Every company, regardless of size or industry, wants to skim the best recruits off the top of the talent pool. The fact is, though, if you want employees who think outside the box, you need to recruit outside the box.

Nontraditional career opportunities exist in every industry, but many job openings go unnoticed by job seekers because they tend to gravitate toward companies that align with their field of expertise. So, how do banks, hospitals, law firms and other businesses attract nontraditional employees? That’s where recruiters trying to fill those nontraditional roles need to get creative.

Most people might assume recruiters in the banking industry are actively searching for candidates who studied banking, finance or similar fields in college, or people who already have an impressive career in the banking industry.

That is true, but it’s also an inside-the-box approach. In today’s competitive employment landscape, we must find the candidates who are outside the box — those who have crucial and hard-to-develop transferable skills, such as emotional intelligence, critical thinking and leadership capability.

We can teach them banking. It’s much harder to teach someone emotional intelligence. Case in point: I hold a degree in psychology, and I’m an attorney. (P.S.: I don’t balance my checkbook or do my own taxes.)

To attract top candidates today, companies must adapt their employment brand to reach those who may never have considered working in their particular industry. One common misconception is that the banking world is all number-crunching and dollars and cents, which couldn’t be further from the truth. As the industry changes with the times, so does the workforce needed to service its customers. Today’s banks, which are continually moving toward a faster, simpler online experience, need specialists in fields like information technology (IT), marketing, sales, risk management and, of course, human resources.

On my human resources team, we have a variety of talent, most of whom never thought they would work at a bank. Take Justin as an example. Justin joined Arvest as a teller while he was in college. After completing his marketing degree, he went on to hold several different positions with Arvest. He now leads an internal corporate communications team.

Kimberly, who also worked as a teller in college, now leads the corporate compensation team. For them, as it is for many others, what started as a way to make pocket money in college turned into a challenging career path, with endless opportunity to grow and develop.

Because of that common “in the box” misconception, graduates with an English degree armed with top-notch communication and critical thinking skills, or IT gurus looking for a different opportunity at any point in their career, might never consider that the banking industry can use their skillset, or that we are actively pursuing them.

Although our tellers and loan officers are still the face of our industry, nearly half of the career paths at Arvest Bank are considered nontraditional. Our customers now manage their banking needs in nontraditional ways, most of which utilize technology. They may come inside the bank less often, but their mobile and online transactions are growing tremendously as we offer more products and services. So we ask ourselves, what does great customer service look like online?

That’s just one example of a scenario that touches several nontraditional careers at Arvest, including IT, customer service and communications. As we work to expand and continuously improve the services we provide customers, we will need the best and brightest minds to think ahead of the curve.
Editor’s note: Laura Andress is a director of group human resources for Arvest Bank in Lowell. She can be contacted via email at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are those of the author.