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Successfully Engaging Non-Traditional Talent

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Maura Cotter

August 2, 2023

Uncovering and Cultivating Hidden Talent Series: Session 3 – Talent Hiding in Plain Sight 

This event marked the third part in our four-part series, designed to equip employers with the knowledge to find and retain top talent. Our panel discussion explored the powerful impact of engaging traditionally overlooked talent pools, emphasizing how this intentional effort goes beyond filling job vacancies—it enriches and expands organizational culture.

Learn more about the focus of the third session in our Uncovering and Cultivating Hidden Talent Series: Talent Hiding in Plain Sight.


Unlocking Hidden Potential

To thrive in today's competitive job market, employers must expand their viewfinder and tap into every potential talent pool. Our panel covered non-traditional avenues, including opportunity youth, the disabled, and individuals formerly involved with the justice system. By embracing these untapped resources, employers not only address their talent needs but also foster much-needed economic mobility within our community.

Overcoming Bias and Reaping Benefits

The data speaks for itself. Statistics from SHRM indicate that HR professionals have reported overwhelmingly positive experiences working with individuals from untapped talent pools. From veterans to people with disabilities, and those with a criminal record, employers have seen exceptional performance from these candidates. Additionally, companies with diverse workforces are 35% more likely to financially outperform their competitors. Moreover, organizations with diverse cultures enjoy more productive, engaged, and satisfied employees.

Challenges and Solutions 

Our panel of experts addressed best practices for hiring from non-traditional talent pools and providing insight into the work of their organizations. 



  • Jessica Centeno, Deputy Executive Director, Center for Employment Opportunities |
    • You can find more information about working with CEO here.
  • Tommy McClam, Senior Director, Boys & Men of Color
  • Kathleen Pascucci, Vice President of Human Resources, People Inc. |
  • In addition, if interested in learning more about how the International Institute works with employers to hire recent immigrants and refugees, please contact Ashley Weaver, Employment Program Manager, International Institute of Buffalo:
  • Moderated by: Grant Loomis, Vice President, Government Affairs & Economic Development, Buffalo Niagara Partnership  

The Panel Covered: 

  • What kind of employer makes for a good fit for your potential non-traditional employee?
  • The necessity of an HR/hiring mindset shift – valuing potential over pedigree.
  • How to overcome barriers, including bias, to successfully hiring non-traditional talent.
  • The need to support employees far beyond onboarding.
  • The proven value non-traditional talent pools bring to an organization.

BNP members can watch the full video of this session in the member portal to benefit from all of the insights discussed. 

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