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Cross-sector hiring and why industry experience is not always the best way to recruit

Published - 10th January 2020. This article is a 5 min read

Image taken by Sebastian Šoška @ Pixabay

Cross-sector hiring can be closely linked to cross-pollination, this essentially is the notion of bringing people with diverse skill sets together. Therefore, encouraging people's different knowledge and skills to influence one another. An example of this could be for instance, rather than having a marketing team build a campaign, involving individuals from finance to input a completely different perspective. This can bring in a different dimension that would have perhaps not been reached, also helping to appeal to a broader audience in regards to marketing.

There are three potential benefits of this:

  1. Broader talent pool (you could be missing out on talented people who don’t fit into the finite pool of ‘industry experts’)
  2. A new perspective (individuals from different industries bring a refreshing point of view and learnings from another setting)
  3. A more productive team (inclusion and diversity create a more agile workforce, therefore extending skills too)

Many great ideas arise from a combination of great ideas. A greater diversity of ideas comes from people within different ideas and values, collaborating. Hosting people from different sectors, functions, cultures, ages and mindsets should inspire a more universally accepted conclusion.

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Traditional command and control companies prefer to keep employees in rigid departments, however, many businesses now encourage mixing employees from different fields. The main purpose of this being, so that a collection of ideas can be discussed when a problem is at hand. The risk of allowing decisions to be made by similar-minded people is that further down the line this may not appeal to a wider audience.

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When a business is making a new hire, ‘previous industry experience’ often sits high on the list within the job requirements. This commonly seems like a straightforward option, and of course in some industries this is crucial, however in many it is not. Soley searching for industry experts can act as a blocker to dynamic talent who could be a far better fit for the role.

Another characteristic to look for is ‘business savvy’. This tends to be a natural keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation (risks and opportunities). If an individual is particularly business savvy, then regardless of their industry experience, they are likely to learn quick and add value irrelevant of their career background.

Prioritising skills, motivation and interest in the sector, as well as track record, over sector experience is a different way to recruit and can lead to better outcomes for both sides.

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In summary, it's clear that there is a strong case for cross-sector hiring.

Hopefully this has given some food for thought and how the straightforward like for like 'industry experience' approach is not necessarily the most effective.

Want to find out more - check out another interesting piece on this subject.

Author - Sophie Goddard

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