Why You Should Take a Chance on These Three Unconventional Hires

Everyone deserves a fair chance.  That’s the motto of Greyston, a certified B-Corporation whose mission is to “create thriving communities through the practice and promotion of Open HiringTM.”  Since 1982, Greyston founder, Bernie Glassman (1939-1918), lived this mission by hiring virtually anyone, believing that respecting and trusting in the capabilities of less conventional workers would improve their lives and those of their communities.  

If you are struggling to hire in this tight labor market because of rigid standards based on experience, skills, or expertise, why not broaden your search parameters?  Put your fair hiring practices into action and begin by interviewing candidates from these three unconventional groups:


There is a reason that a Salary.com survey estimated that the average stay-at-home parent would earn $162,581 in 2018!  Job roles like a planner, educator, events coordinator, marketing manager, or logistics analyst—everyday activities for the busy parent—makes them ideal workers with many transferable skills. Interview questions should focus on examples that illustrate their communication, leadership, multi-tasking, organizational, negotiation or management roles.  Education and past work experience are a plus, but soft skills like these are more in-demand and harder to find.  Be sure your organization supports training programs for the hard skills and mentoring for faster scale-to-performance.

Terminated Employees

If a candidate doesn’t have a job in this hot job market, it could be that he or she has been terminated.  While it’s a good idea to be cautious, there are lots of reasons to hire someone who has been let go.  For example, it’s worthwhile to remember that the likes of Walt Disney (he wasn’t creative enough), JK Rowling (she wrote stories on company time), and Oprah Winfrey (apparently a news reporting failure), all achieved success after being fired.  

People can be let go for disagreeing with policies, making a mistake, irritating the boss-from-hell, or just not being the right fit.  In any other company, these candidates could be absolutely fabulous if treated fairly, and willing to work extra hard to prove themselves after their career mishap.  

While screening, give resumes extra scrutiny and call on references. Pay extra attention to nuance and context during the interview.   You might ask more probing questions about the candidate’s performance and attitude, but don’t reject a potential star because they’ve had a career pitfall. 

Second-Chance Workers

According to the Second Chance Project, one in four Americans has a criminal record. Nearly half of these are drug-related, with non-violent drug offenses leading the way.  Minor drug convictions, many earned by young people, hurt job prospects and lead to increased poverty and crime rates.  Right now, states like California, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts are working to make it easier for people to get minor marijuana possession records expunged, which will take away the stigma for potential candidates with a criminal history.  

To be sure, you will want to apply a stringent hiring process to such a candidate to ensure a successful outcome but transitioned candidates often have strong skills gained in vocational training and a referenceable portfolio of work.   Your job offer will help these candidates experience transformative change, inspire the workplace culture, often resulting in a loyal, grateful employee.  For hiring guidelines, see our blog, “Giving Ex-Offenders their Next Chance.”  

So instead of automatically round-filing resumes with gaps in work experience, revise your assumptions, broaden your search parameters, and emphasize candidate communications. Take a look at the person instead of the paper.  Remember these are people with potential that you wish to take on board, many of whom have real life experiences and are eager to contribute.  Start by having a conversation (an informational interview approach) with someone from one of these unconventional groups to be sure you are not missing out on a future star!