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I interviewed for a role at Avanade without direct experience. They saw my potential anyway.

  • Posted on August 10, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

I first interviewed for a role at Avanade in May 2021. The job was an internship on the Talent Acquisition Transformation Team, but nowhere on my resume did I have direct experience in TA, or even HR. How did I get the interview? The hiring team cast a wide net, opening up the possibility of finding someone with a background outside of TA.

I found the job through a referral. Though I was interested in HR, I wasn’t sure how to move into a new area several years out of college. But I had seen how a family friend working at Avanade felt supported and encouraged to succeed both professionally and as a new mom of two. Her stories showed how support for employees went beyond just lip service. So, when she sent over the intern posting, I was hopeful there may be an openness for someone eager to learn.

In preparation for my interview, I filled two large sticky note pads, like those at the front of a conference room during a brainstorm, with quotes from Pam Maynard around the value of diversity and making a genuine human impact. I noted details from blogs, such as an updated policy to support Australian employees going through gender affirming surgery. I listened to part of a podcast on innovations in the retail space in the hopes of connecting my current role to work being done at Avanade. I still wasn’t clear on what made things run day to day. I just knew I wanted to be part of a place that invested in so much of what I believed in.

 

But I felt nervous. In a tiny corner of the big sticky note, I wrote in small lettering how I might explain a gap on my resume from four years prior. What if that gap made them discount my examples showing my capabilities? The trajectory of my post-grad career had gone differently than expected, and that experience helped me develop a better ability to manage anxiety and an even greater empathy for others. But no matter how I’d grown, I couldn’t shake some lingering self-consciousness that I may be perceived as inadequate or incapable.

 

That resume gap did not come up. 

 

Instead, I was invited to share examples of when I was proud of my work or ability to collaborate with a team. The interview ended with the chance to bring up anything that may have not yet been asked. In that time, I touched on my passion and experience working with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts – I had expected a question on the topic and was surprised to not have received a direct prompt.

 

Turns out, my emphasis on flexibility and adaptability were the key words that helped me stand out. In addition, after I was hired, my career adviser shared that not having a specific question about I&D was deliberate – they didn’t want to discourage someone who didn’t have direct experience. The intent of the entire hiring process was to identify someone with potential.

 

Since my start date in June 2021, I have focused most on developing a global framework for our Talent Ambassador Program (TAP), a community of advocates for Avanade. The nature of the program requires collaboration across teams from Talent Acquisition, Recruitment Marketing, Social, Learning & Development, and all employees who are advocates for Avanade. My personalized onboarding process familiarized me with things that are basics for others but were new to me – setting up meetings, networking while fully remote, presenting on Teams. I started as someone soaking in all I could learn about past processes and actioning other’s ideas. I’ve shifted toward having the confidence and awareness to answer questions, make decisions, and now make recommendations on best next steps for certain projects.

 

Within a year, I have been nudged towards my potential, given access to premier trainings, and championed by my team. Since day one, I had leaders helping me craft a business case for me to transition into a full-time role, which I accepted on March 1 to shift to being a Senior Analyst.

Beyond the support to grow professionally, Avanade’s given me the confidence to make literal moves personally. When my partner was offered his current dream role in Indiana, I felt more curious than intimidated by saying yes to a move from my hometown of Denver, CO. We previously navigated long distance so that we each could continue exploring our professional passions. But now, thanks to this role, that was possible to do from the same place.

All this makes me excited for the potential of where my years at Avanade will take me. I see how others get the chance to shift and grow, I recognize growth in myself, and I see the potential of what's coming next. I'm thrilled that each day I still get to collaborate with my global team, to be nudged outside my comfort zone, and emboldened to think bigger about my capabilities. I look forward to all the connections yet to be made and all the opportunities to support others finding their way to Avanade.

Hiring for potential can feel a lofty, unfeasible goal. But in a tight market for talent, finding ways to identify who holds potential for open roles is a critical move. Setting them up for success once they are in the door is even more crucial. I realize there's risk and investment involved. But I can confirm, it's a choice that makes a genuine human impact.

Aditya Prashar

Samantha, what an inspiring story.
I shared your story with my wife as she is trying to get a similar profile in Avanade after a break in her career. Your story inspired her. Wish you the very best of luck in your future. 

August 30, 2022

Jennifer Johnson

Fantastic!  

August 14, 2022

Paul Phillips

Samantha - we are truly honored to have you on Team Avanade. Continue to aim high.

August 11, 2022

Annabel Avanade

Not sure I can add to the beautiful and eloquent response from Corrine as she has said it all, but we are so glad you we found each other. Another jewel to add to Avanade's crown - and look forward to watching you further develop and progress your career here. 

August 11, 2022

Corrine Long

As a TA Transformation lead supporting Avanade's ambitious growth, I am keenly aware that building the workforce of the future will mean expanding hiring profiles where possible to focus on hiring for potential not previous work experience or a current skillset. So, it only seemed fitting when last Spring I was given the opportunity to hire someone to scale our Talent Ambassador Program globally on my team that I would lean into my own advice.

When we were drafting the job posting for our TA Transformation Intern, my team including Lisa Kochert & Annabel Nichols, knew we needed to write a different type of job posting. One that leaned into the unknown, encouraged people who weren't "qualified" to apply and expanded the reach beyond traditional college interns. Instead, we focused on writing a job posting that was compelling to candidates with the mindset we knew we needed in this role - a growth mindset, empathy, and an interest in building community and connections across our global workforce. All the rest we could teach. 

During the interviews we connected with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds who would have each brought a different lens to the role, even some with TA / HR experience, but we knew our choice was clear. Samantha Schonberger's enthusiasm to learn, empathic approach and her ability to lean into the uncomfortable shone bright. Sure, she didn't know TA or HR, but she was keen to learn them, and we felt confident she had the potential. In these last 14 months she has demonstrated how limitless her potential truly is here at Avanade. She has expanded our Talent Ambassador Program from 200 to 2300, designed a custom solution to manage Talent Ambassador activity and wowed Interns through Execs with her thoughtful and thorough approach to everything she does. And now, she has bold plans to expand the impact of the program by leaning into things that give her energy plus gaining new skills and connections. 

I know not every role has the chance to abandon all required skills like we were able to do for this position, but I would challenge everyone to focus on writing job postings that will attract the right mindset with less of a focus on skillset. 

Samantha, you make me #AvanadeProud. Thank you for choosing #WorkAtAvanade! I'm grateful every day you joined our team and can't wait to see where your adventures take you.  

August 10, 2022

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