Recruiting these days is getting more and more difficult, particularly when hiring Nurses. We’re featuring this article because of its creative approach to thinking outside the box. Perhaps it’s time to change your message, how and where you target that message, and maybe even the position requirements.
For this particular company featured in the article, a college degree and sales experience had always been required for its Sales Development Reps (SDR). The author was promoted to Sales Development Manager. He wanted to hire a different type of Sales Rep -- someone with no sales experience or college degree, but was hungry to learn and grow. The Sales Rep job is a tough job and he knew the burnout rate was high.
Once he removed the degree and experience requirements, he found his applicant pool became more diverse. To quote the author “If you have a role at your organization that doesn’t require previous experience, be intentional about your recruiting. Use it as an opportunity to shift the demographic makeup of your company.”
As a Nurse Recruiter, we know you have degree and experience requirements for many of your positions, but perhaps this article will inspire you to make some positive changes to reach your hiring goals. Good luck!
A few weeks into my first year as Jhana’s Sales Development Manager, a realization hit me.
Because I was a hiring manager recruiting for a role that required no previous experience or college degree, I was in a unique position to drive diversity and inclusion at my company.
Almost every corporate job requires a college degree, and many also require previous experience in a similar role—big hurdles for someone from an underserved community. The Sales Development Rep (a.k.a. SDR), however, is one of the few jobs that allow someone without relevant work experience or a college degree to break into corporate America.
College Degree Not Required
SDRs at Jhana fill an entry-level role. They don’t do cold calling but instead use a series of template-based emails to set up introductory sales calls for our Account Executives. Still, many companies require a college degree for the role, whether they state it explicitly or not.
When I first deleted “Bachelor’s Degree” from the job description, it felt a bit radical. It even felt like I was doing something wrong. But as I examined why I had included it in the first place, I realized I couldn’t think of a single good reason.
It was purely reflexive.
Removing “Bachelor’s degree required” was the first step towards attracting a more diverse and inclusive candidate pool.
Why I prefer SDRs With No Previous Experience
Here’s something that I find interesting: Jhana’s current sales development team is the most productive lead-generation team the company has ever had. However, if our current SDRs had applied for the job two years ago, they would have been rejected.
In the past, we required 1 to 2 years of previous SDR experience to qualify for even a phone screening. Thankfully, we’ve since made dramatic changes to our SDR hiring strategy, which have made recruiting not only faster but much more inclusive.
Soon after I was promoted to Sales Development Manager, I argued that we would actually get better SDRs if we recruited candidates with zero SDR experience. It was not a popular idea at the time. Never before had we hired for any role at Jhana and not asked for previous experience.
But anyone who has done the job knows that SDR work is grueling. It’s tedious. It takes perseverance. If a candidate left a company after being an SDR there, I could pretty much bet that he or she wanted to leave not just that company but the SDR role itself. I hypothesized that having 1 to 2 years of previous SDR experience actually hampered motivation and productivity.
So as Jhana’s first Sales Development Manager, I set out to hire a very different type of SDR. I didn’t want people with previous experience in the job.
Instead, I looked for grit. I looked for candidates who had work or life experiences that showed determination. I also looked—very much intentionally—for candidates who could add to Jhana’s diversity.
In 6 months, SDR productivity (as measured by the volume of cold emails sent, meaning emails sent to prospects with whom you’ve had no previous contact) increased by 100% and the number of discovery calls (introductory sales calls between the prospect and an Account Executive) increased by 60%.
Grab the Opportunity to Drive Diversity and Inclusion
By not requiring previous experience or a college degree, you not only dramatically grow your potential candidate pool, but you open up a huge opportunity from a diversity and inclusion perspective.
Let me put it plainly: If you have a role at your organization that doesn’t require previous experience, be intentional about your recruiting. Use it as an opportunity to shift the demographic makeup of your company.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your job as a hiring manager will get easier. In fact, it will probably get harder.
You’ll have to read more resumes.
You’ll have to do more phone screenings.
You’ll have to ask better interview questions.
You’ll have to become excellent at training new SDRs.
You’ll have to build well-oiled processes so that orientation and onboarding happens quickly.
So why do this?
Because you’ll build a better lead-generation engine.
Because you’ll help build a company that’s more diverse.
Because it’s the right thing to do.
As a hiring manager, you are entrusted with the rare opportunity to give jobs. Why not be intentional about how you use that responsibility? Why not think differently about how and who you recruit? Why not try to create social change, one hire at a time?