Mad Skills: Definition + Examples of 5 Atypical Skills that Attract Recruiters

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Mad skills are all the rage in recruitment. Indeed, these crazy or atypical skills of a candidate, corresponding to competencies developed outside the professional or academic context, help to highlight a unique profile and make certain talents stand out from the crowd during the hiring process.

However, while this term is in vogue, it remains highly abstract for many recruiters: what are mad skills, what do they contribute, how can they be recognized, etc.? As a recruiter, you need to be aware of these original skills, what they represent and their assets, in order to find the right talent for your company.

What if you, too, were to put a bit of madness into your recruiting? Intuition Software explains everything you need to know about mad skills, and presents 5 examples of mad skills coveted by recruiters:

Interests and mad skills overlap in the same definition

Mad skills: definition

Mad skills are all the competencies acquired or developed by an individual outside of professional or academic experience. Mad skills can be either soft skills or hard skills, and refer to the atypical, offbeat or singular nature of a skill acquired through interests, hobbies or personal experience, which sets the individual apart from others.

Following the trend towards soft skills and hard skills, these mad skills have now emerged, and can provide a wealth of information about a candidate, such as his or her commitment to a specific activity, be it sporting, creative or associative. According to a survey published in 2019 by Indeed, 75% of recruiters are sensitive to candidates who have completed large-scale personal projects.

It's important for recruiters to include mad skills on their CVs

How to detect and promote mad skills?

Mad skills can be detected in a subtle way, and are not systematically highlighted by talented people. However, if you read between the lines, you’ll find them in the “Hobbies” section of the CV, or discover them when you ask the candidate questions during the job interview.

When looking for a mad skill, try to transpose them to the needs of the position in question. Are you looking for a leader to manage a team? A former sports coach could be an asset. Would you like someone with the adaptability to handle totally different projects at the same time? Scour the CVs for profiles of former expatriates or travelers.

What’s more, there are a number of ways you can make the most of your mad skills, depending on your position:

  • On the recruiter’s side: don’t hesitate to dig into candidates’ hobbies, even if they are not indicated on the CV. Atypical profiles are usually innovative, open-minded or leaders,
  • On the candidate’s side: it’s important to create an “Interests” section in your CV. While some hobbies are a bit “all-purpose”, others catch the eye of recruiters and can make all the difference.
A mad skill is an important atypical competence in a recruitment process

Mad skills: how important is it to recruit an atypical profile?

Atypical skills such as mad skills are highly sought-after, as they bring a breath of fresh air and a certain originality to companies. In fact, rather than hiring bespoke profiles, recruiters find themselves faced with profiles that break the codes and can be extremely beneficial to a company.

However, interest in these atypical skills will vary according to the candidate’s age and professional experience:

  • A junior’s major asset is generally his or her ability to bring a fresh eye to the company, to innovate and adapt quickly. We therefore advise you to look at the “mad skills” indicating that candidates have a taste for challenge, the ability to question themselves or to manage projects;
  • The advantage of senior profiles is their experience. If you’re looking for someone who can lead and pass on knowledge and skills, it’s highly likely that you’ll need an experienced candidate to take on the role of mentor and help your teams progress.

To ensure the success of your recruitment processes, we advise you to find the perfect balance between a candidate’s different skills. That’s how mad skills can add real value to your company!

CVs from slashers, serial expats and CrossFit enthusiasts are becoming increasingly common. There’s every chance that these atypical candidates will one day become “classic profiles”.

There are many examples of mad skills that can be used to identify the ideal candidate profile

Mad skills examples: what are the 5 most coveted skills?

The range of atypical skills is very wide, and it can be difficult to know which skill corresponds to a mad skill. To help you get a clearer picture, we’ve put together 5 examples of mad skills that are highly revealing and coveted by recruiters.

  • Sports activities, an interesting mad skill

Sport corresponds to a well-known mad skill, and each activity indicates an atypical skill that may prove perfect for a position. Soccer develops team spirit, running promotes endurance, combat sports involve fighting spirit, and climbing or hiking develop determination.

  • Artistic activities, mad skills in demand

Whether you’re a miniature painter, a lyric singer, a double bass player or an improvisational theater performer, these are just some of the artistic activities that can reveal a candidate’s mad skills and qualities. Indeed, art is ideal for developing creativity, self-confidence and public speaking skills.

  • Personal experiences, enriching mad skills

Another example of mad skills is personal experiences, those that shape a life. There’s no doubt that life events, hardships or even expatriation forge a personality and enable the development of certain unique skills. For example, travelers demonstrate a great ability to get off the beaten track, to get by in unfamiliar conditions or to communicate with strangers.

  • Volunteering, a mad skill that speaks volumes

Have you spent a few months in Asia building a school? Have you been a member of a cultural association for 10 years? These commitments denote a certain open-mindedness, an involved personality and developed altruism, and are examples of mad skills that deserve to be visible on a CV.

  • Personal activities and interests, specialized mad skills

Other activities and personal interests are also strong markers of mad skills. Many people are passionate about hiking, cooking, history or DIY (Do It Yourself), or even write blogs. This mad skill indicates a certain advanced knowledge of a particular field and essential adjacent skills (stamina, precision, patience, curiosity, writing, etc.).

You now know all about the mad skills that no longer go unnoticed in a recruitment process. It’s important to recognize them, and to be doubly astute in spotting the ideal candidate at interview. Intuition Software gives you the keys to spotting a mad skill that stands out from the crowd!

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