One of the most frustrating things I see in aligning talented people with opportunities is the stubborn insistence on industry experience. That’s why I was heartened to see a post by Ron Thomas “Industry Experience Required” Is a Mindset We Need to Get Out Of” on TLNT.com a website for HR professionals.
Mr. Thomas points out that smart companies need to look for transferable skills and not get caught up by the industry bias. I couldn’t agree more – especially at the senior level where the real value often lies in management skills rather than specific industry knowledge.
I realize that there is a natural desire to find someone who can “hit the ground running” and perhaps thereby mitigate some risk but I think the industry requirement is really driven by a desire to believe “our business is unique” and as an easy way to screen candidates out in a market where there are more seekers than jobs.
There is also a common tendency to want to categorize people in terms of industry - as in he’s a hardware guy or she’s a healthcare exec. It’s a form of career shorthand. But here’s the real irony: we start by putting them in a box and then once they are on board we ask for “out-of-the-box” thinking!
For my part, I have always welcomed having people with diverse experience because of those “A-ha” moments. Those times when you are sitting around the table talking about how to do something and suddenly someone asks” but why do you do it that way”? How much innovation do we sacrifice by insisting on someone who is an exact replica of the last person in the job?Just saying…