Why you should look outside your industry for your next hire
Anyone who’s ever had to hire knows that you need to cast a wide net to attract the best talent. But there’s something else you should know: a single-minded focus on skills and industry experience alone can lead employers to ignore the ripe pickings available just over the fence – professionals from other industries with the qualities and potential to be star performers.
You can increase your talent pool by considering ambitious professionals from outside your industry who are looking for new opportunities to broaden their skills, increase their options, take the next step in their career and join a growing organisation – especially when opportunities in their current industry are limited.
Benefits to employers
For professionals with transferable skills, your organisation can benefit from a new perspective and new solutions to business challenges. In banking, I’ve seen credit managers move from banks to property construction firms, where they were able to carry their skills over and help those firms gain the finance approvals they needed.
There are also plenty of opportunities for professionals with experience in hiring and retention in organisations that have grown really quickly, to help other organisations scale fast.
Perhaps the greatest benefit is the ability to drive innovation by hiring people with diverse thinking a fresh approach.
Government departments, for example, often intentionally take people from different sectors to introduce a more commercial, private-sector mindset.
If you always hire the same people, you risk ending up with the same ideas and same results. When you inject some diversity into your team, you are able to engage with old problems with new solutions. In other words, it leads to different outcomes.
It may seem disruptive, but that’s how innovation happens.
Experience vs potential
Forward-thinking employers know they need to look beyond experience to find people with high potential, because with the right aptitude and the right motivators, technical skills can be learned.
Candidates need to ‘know how’ to do the job and have the ‘can do’ capabilities – but it’s also important that they have the ability to learn and be adaptable and resilient, which will enable them to quickly learn the ropes in a new role.
They might even become high performers faster than others because they have the willingness and drive to learn.
The key to mitigating the risk of hiring someone without industry knowledge is to conduct robust assessment on their potential, capabilities and motivations. Behavioural interview questions combined with psychometric assessments can screen for this.
One of the main worries for hiring managers when considering candidates from other industries is whether they will stay. Will they go straight back to their old industry once the market picks up? I’ve seen these concerns firsthand in Perth as the resources industry goes through peaks and troughs.
For hiring managers worried about retention, ensuring you hire people with the right cultural and motivational fit – the real ‘want to’ drivers – will greatly increase your chances of choosing a winner.
They’re also more likely to stay longer and potentially form part of your succession plans, while enjoying the career progression and challenges of working in a new industry.
If you take the right approach to assessing a candidate’s potential and capabilities, you might find that hiring outside of your industry is a win-win.