In my own working life, I have lost count of the number of times I have been told by recruiters that I am not being put forward for a role because I don’t have the right industry or sector experience and would need to cross the sector/industry divide.
I have also changed industry and sector successfully several times and have had great feedback. I have even been congratulated on being able to quickly pick up work in one sector when my recent experience has been in a different sector. My answer is – and always has been – that I am trained and experienced as an HR professional and those skills are applicable in any industry or sector, or even country.
“But I need people who know the ropes”
There may be a need to learn different processes and procedures (or even legalities) but I have never found that to be a difficulty. There is always something to learn in any new job (and actually in any current job as well). If your candidate is unwilling or unable to learn, then that may be a barrier to employing them. But their current industry and sector experience is not such a barrier.
Employers are reluctant to take on staff who have not worked in the right sector or industry. Public sector employees can’t get private sector jobs; non-academic staff can’t move into the academic sector; retail sector only want people who have retail experience; etc.
I raised this issue last year in a previous article but it bears repeating.
Barriers to recruiting across the divide
It appears that one of the most common obstacles to recruiting across the sector/industry divide is knowledge of legal processes and obligations, together with a lack of contacts in the industry. These things can be learnt. There will always be a learning curve of some kind for a new employee, even within an industry or sector. The sector or industry-specific technicalities are more easily taught than things like aptitude and attitude.
The HR department is meant to be a partner to business, not a barrier
Sadly, it appears that the most common reason given for not recruiting outside sector or industry is “internal HR processes”. I find this difficult to accept as any “HR processes” have been put in place to serve the business or organisation and are easily changed if they are no longer a fit with the changing world. The point of HR is to partner and facilitate business, not to put up barriers or be a regulating force.
So if your HR processes are blocking your ability to recruit across all industries and sectors, then I would suggest you need to change your HR processes.
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