If so, then is your hiring bias founded on facts or can you teach industry knowledge in a short amount of time?
I challenge my clients to look at this, because when you limit yourself to candidates with “X” amount of experience in your industry, you really shrink the available pool of candidates.
I understand that there are truly places where you must know the industry because of regulations, compliance, certifications, or laws, but there are many cases where you might be able to find great candidates and train them. A great resource to understand this bias and many more can be found in Howard Ross’ book Everyday Bias.
Think of the advantages of being able to train a person “fresh” and being able to put your organization’s spin on the industry, so the person starts with a clean slate and without baggage from prior organizations.
We know from Peter Drucker that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” so really, what you want to do is hire for talent, skills, and interest. If the industry knowledge can be taught, then you should focus on culture fit though talent. One of my favorite books is Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers by Dee Ann Turner.
In the past, I was asked to lead a sales team that was in the green industry. The company had historically hired people who had experience in horticulture, agriculture, or viniculture for sales roles. They were convinced that the person must have green industry experience, but the turn-over for the sales role was 40-50% annually.
Why? Well, people who like plants and grapes generally are not people lovers, they are plant lovers. So instead, we determined what skills and talent were for these roles. Once we made a change, we had top sales performers who came from teaching, hospitality, retail, property management and more. This shift was caused by hiring for talent and training for industry.
I believe that we need to seriously take a look at the advantage of attracting talent with transferable skills from outside our industries and rid ourselves from any hiring bias we may have. We can increase our candidate pool and the chance of finding the BEST talent for the role.
Have you had any success with going outside of your industry? Share your story in the comments below or get in touch with me for further support.