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Candidates may not be aware that having a big name on their CV isn’t always a plus. It has become increasingly clear through conversations we have had with clients that there are undoubtedly conscious biases during the recruitment process.

Smaller clients are worried that a candidate may fall short of what's expected to the business's detriment without the name of a big brand behind them. However, this could be holding you back from taking your company forward.

While it’s true that some people thrive in big organisations and struggle in smaller ones, there are many benefits to hiring someone from larger corporations – they aren’t all hiding their lack of skills behind the brand name. 

Those who make the leap from a global conglomerate to a local start-up may have just the kind of ambition and forward-thinking required to take their new employer to the next level.

What is conscious bias?

When you act or respond in a certain way towards another person or group, you are being consciously biased. Some extreme examples of conscious bias in the workplace would be treating someone differently because of their age, race, gender, religion, etc. 

While being unwilling to consider an applicant for a job because their experience has mostly been with big brands isn’t illegal, unlike the examples above, it can be damaging to your business.

Why being aware of bias is important

Suppose you're worried about progressing an applicant to an interview because your company is much smaller than those specified on their CV. In that case, you're talking yourself out of a wealth of knowledge and potentially throwing away a candidate who is a fantastic fit.

Three reasons you should fight your recruitment bias

  1.  You’re losing out on fantastic insights

Start-ups can benefit hugely from a seasoned professional who has gained experience in a big company because they can offer insights on your market position and how to scale. Plus, they may have taken advantage of the significant learning budgets that global organisations boast, meaning their skillset may be more diverse and developed than you anticipate.

That said, they may need a hand with understanding the hands-on nature of working at a smaller company. Concepts such as failing fast and agility may be alien to them, but if they have previously made use of L&D opportunities, then they've already proven to be open to learning new things.

  1.  You’re closing the door on ambitious candidates

People who join smaller businesses often do so because they want to make a significant difference or accelerate their career path. These individuals are invaluable to a growing start-up, as they bring in a new sense of ambition and drive – they've been there, done it, and want to help you get there too. They're often highly results-driven, and it's much easier to see their effects on a small company than it is at a big organisation.

  1.  You’re limiting your network

Candidates from big organisations also come with an extensive network of former colleagues and clients to contact for new business opportunities. Even if it's only a tenuous connection, like sharing a lunch line or office cubicle, their connection could make all the difference if you happen to be pitching to that person in the future. It's always helpful to have a person that knows someone for everything.

How to mitigate concerns

Rather than take the candidate out of the running entirely, there are two steps you can take, one before the interview and one during, to relieve any concerns you may have and ensure that the person you may be hiring has thought their decision through.

Personal reputation is always a good jumping-off point, so before the interview, check their LinkedIn and any posts or articles they've created. If they've built up a good social network and spent time maintaining their reputation, it shows that they're not using that big name as a fallback.

During the interview, ask them about their reasons for making the switch. This may seem like a bit of a tick box exercise that means little until they prove it, but start-ups are young and supple, so you must make sure they're in it for the same reasons as you are. 

Working with a start-up comes with its stipulations – employees are often required to go above and beyond, work under pressure and thrive within a close-knit team – so ask for examples of the candidate doing this in the past to make sure they’ll hit the ground running.

MRL’s advice regarding recruitment bias

It's never worth limiting your talent pool to a specific type of candidate. Even if you have concerns about hiring from prominent organisations, many of those can be resolved with minor tweaks and changes to your recruitment process, asking a question in a different way or by prodding around for a little more information.

In such a candidate-led market, you never know where the ideal employee may pop up or what their experience is, so leave the blinkers on the side and ensure your net is cast wide enough to incorporate the industry’s big names.

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