Gimme a break.

“X+ years of industry sales experience a must!”First job interview for the casual graduate Why?

Entrepreneurial business stories continue to demonstrate that a burning (and creative) desire to make a difference is the foundation for success. Some call it passion (sadly, overused to the point of nausea). I like ‘drive’, as basic as the need for oxygen.

I am mentoring two recent college grads on their quest to find the elusive first ‘job’. Six months after graduation and countless interviews have yielded nothing. Their situation, and frustration, is not unique and has very little to do with a polished cover letter, a bulked-up resume or interviewing skills. It has everything to do with primitive hiring practices.

Throughout my career I have experienced incredible results by battling inflexible and lazy hiring policies. I rarely recruited from within the industry. Moreover, and without exception, my biggest and longest tenured employees came from outside our industry.

Here’s why: that perfect resume with x years of experience and a long list of accomplishments is impressive, and tempting. But we know what happens when the honeymoon(probationary, ninety-day period) is over ; “I've got this, so now I can coast, call my contacts and just tell them to forget my old company and switch to the new one.”

We're always looking for the easy way out. “We're on a roll, we're expanding, we need to hire more people”. Let’s find a superstar with a “black book of connections” and she’s going to take us over the top, “we don't have time to train”.

Often, those tasked with hiring are given inflexible, old-world profiles of ideal candidates. This is where change is needed.

Even if human resources interview someone who is incredibly impressive, they are not going to take a chance and deviate from the qualifications that were handed down. “If I send someone who does not fit the mold, my ass is on the line"

What a shame.

Here's the great news: Many of us (radical but long term thinkers) tossed “x years of industry experience aside” and looked for an able and agile mind and body that would bring a fresh and inquisitive dynamic to our team. We found them eager to learn, travel and conquer new frontiers. Unlike candidates with “x years of experience”, newbies (either college grads or those with business experience in other industries) want to make a difference, not impress.

Time and time again, colleagues who used safe old-word hiring practices, expressed their frustrations with the seemingly high achieving employees they hired; “he’s lazy, all he’s doing is call contacts he knows“ or “she keeps comparing us to her old company and blames us for her lack of results”.

As the rate of new and open positions increases, so will the temptation to take the path-of-least-resistance and hire the seemingly "home-run" candidate. Don't. Think long term and beyond the first two lines of qualifications.

When you give someone a break, you'll get one yourself somewhere down the road, "that was a good call and I'm glad you pushed me to think and hire differently, great job."