Some employers I’ve dealt with insist on only hiring people with direct experience in their industry. Their reasoning is usually that they can “hit the ground running”. In other words, they want and expect them to become productive in the shortest period of time. This will reduce the time and cost that would otherwise have to go into training.
They might also be under the assumption that hiring from within their industry means they can be sure the person will stick at the job.
For the amount of times this hiring strategy works, it also falls short. Some “industry” salespeople are carrying baggage or tend to get by on an existing network of contacts that keeps them functioning without ever setting the world on fire.
Another group of employers recognises these shortcomings and wants fresh thinking and ideas to be brought into their business. They search for candidates that are unencumbered by insular thinking or a stale network of contacts. For these employers, their candidates have to come from outside their industry. If there’s a downside for those employers in very specialised industries, it’s that additional time will have to be put into training these ‘outsiders’
Is there an alternative to these options? Yes, and it’s been my preferred way of delivering great candidates to employers – look on the periphery of your industry to source your candidates. It’s a way of getting the best of both worlds.
As an example, consider a business that sells windows to construction companies. You don’t need to have a salesperson who’s sold windows before. Someone who has sold roof tiles, doors or even bricks can do the job. Working off construction plans, dealing with builders and understanding building regulations, would be the same for all those industries.
And the benefits – they’re numerous but are often a more exited salesperson relishing the challenge and interest a new set of surrounding brings.
They might also bring with them better systems, methods or skills from a business or industry sector that’s more advanced than your own.
So if you’ve been employing largely from within your own industry sector, next time consider a candidate from a peripheral industry. It always worked for me.
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