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Mad Skills: the atypical skills that seduce the recruiter

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After the trend of soft skills (human qualities and interpersonal skills) and hard skills (professional know-how), mad skills are now in vogue. Also known as crazy or atypical skills, these allow candidates to stand out from the crowd.

What if you also put a bit of madness in your recruiting?

What are mad skills? 

Mad skills, a concept straight from Silicon Valley

This term refers to the atypical, offbeat or singular aspect of a skill. In this category of “original skills”, we find everything that an individual has acquired in his or her personal life. Today, many young professionals are “slashers”. They have several strings to their bow and flourish through this multitude of activities. 

💡 According to a survey from Indeed published in 2019, 75% of recruiters are sensitive to candidates who have completed large-scale personal projects. 

Some examples of mad skills: 

The range of atypical skills is therefore very wide. These include: 

  • Sports activities: sports such as soccer develop team spirit. Sports such as running promote endurance. Climbing and hiking help develop determination.
  • Artistic activities: painting on figurines, lyrical singing, playing the double bass or improvised theater, watercolor… Art is ideal for developing creativity, self-confidence or public speaking. 
  • Personal experiences: it is certain that life events, hardships or even an expatriation forge a personality. For example, travelers show a great capacity to get off the beaten track.
  • Volunteering: a few months in Asia to build a school? Member of a cultural association for 10 years? These commitments show an involved personality and deserve to be visible on a CV.  
  • Personal activities and interests: many people, passionate about hiking, cooking, history or even motherhood and DIY (Do it yourself) have a fine knowledge of their subject and sometimes start writing a blog. 

💡 The amazing thing about these skills is that we can learn them at any point in our lives and personal experiences. 

How to detect and develop mad skills? 

Technical skills are easily detected in the “Experiences” section of the candidate’s CV. On the other hand, mad skills are detected in a much more subtle way. Indeed, these are not systematically put forward by the talents. However, if you read between the lines, you will find them in the “Hobbies” section of the CV or you will discover them during the job interview during your exchange with the candidates. 

When looking for non-typical skills, try to match them with the needs of the position in question. For example, are you looking for a leader to manage a team? A former sports coach could be an asset. Would you like a profile with a great capacity to adapt and handle totally different projects? Why not look at the resumes of former expatriates or travelers?

👉 On the recruiter’s side: don’t hesitate to dig into the candidates’ hobbies, even if they are not indicated on the CV. Atypical profiles usually have a capacity for innovation, a great openness of mind or even a leadership spirit. 

👉 On the candidate side: it’s important to create an “Interests” section. While some hobbies are a bit “boilerplate”, others catch the eye of recruiters and can make a difference. 

The importance of recruiting an atypical profile 

These offbeat skills are highly sought after as they bring a breath of fresh air and a certain originality to companies. Rather than hiring custom-made profiles, the recruiter is faced with profiles that break the codes. This can be extremely beneficial for a company. However, the interest for these atypical skills will not be the same according to the age and the professional experience of the candidate. 

👉 The major asset of a junior is usually his ability to bring a fresh eye to the company, to innovate and to adapt quickly. Thus, we advise you to test candidates on their taste for challenge, their 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 impart knowledge and skills, chances are you need an experienced candidate to take on the role of mentor and move your teams forward. 

To succeed in your recruitment process, we advise you to find the perfect balance between soft skills, hard skills and mad skills. This is the only way that atypical skills will bring real added value to your company!

Moreover, the CVs of slashers, serial expatriates or Cross Fit enthusiasts are becoming more and more common. It is therefore likely that these atypical candidates will one day become “classic profiles”.


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