“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein
When it comes to making key senior hires, it goes without saying that you want to make the best possible decision for the company. Often vital senior roles within the transport and infrastructure sectors can be highly specialised and specific to the industry, a specialist transport advisory consultancy for example wouldn’t hire a water specialist to advise their clients on airport transactions.
On some occasions however, it can be useful to look further afield when considering senior appointments. There are many leadership roles where the skillset is transferable between sectors – yes, there may be a steeper learning curve coming in to your organisation – but by considering a candidate’s transferable skills, you are opening up a much broader range of potential applicants. Skills like operations management, leadership, business transformation, asset management and project management, go with employees to any job, regardless of company or industry.
What are the benefits to your company of hiring outside of your core market?
1. Fresh ideas.
If you continue to hire people with the same experience and background, you will continue to hire people who have similar ideas. This runs the risk of creating a stagnant workforce and business. By setting very specific, rigid parameters for your executive search, you will inevitably come back to the same types of people again and again. They will have similar education and industry experience as the people you are replacing and if your company needs a change of perspective it’s advisable to look for people from different backgrounds to your norm.
Not only this, but someone coming in from outside will view this opportunity as a fresh new challenge and won’t see the role as “the same old routine” they had a previous companies. You want someone to come on board and ask “why are things done this way?” rather than just blindly accept that “that’s the way we do it around here.”
Not all industries develop at the same pace; some are renowned for excellence in customer service or supply chain management, or safety assurance. Hiring a new director from the leading sector in that function can accelerate your company’s development considerably.
A sure-fire way to change things up in your organisation is by hiring from outside the industry.
2. A bigger talent pool.
It’s something we are hearing more and more about. The skills shortage. With increasing numbers of available jobs, it really is a candidate’s market. By widening the goal posts you are putting the control back in your corner.
This is especially important if you are trying to diversify your executive team. We have discussed previously how the likes of Network Rail and Thames Tideway have pledged a significant increase in the number of women they employ. Industry is another filter that further narrows down the candidates available to you. Looking for qualified women in similar industries is one way to overcome this.
3. More attractive company.
The best talent is always attracted to the most dynamic, forward thinking businesses. Companies that use best practices and offer the opportunity for growth, not companies that always want to stick with what’s safe and comfortable. Looking for talent in a wide variety of sectors helps a company to grow and stay relevant.
All sectors go through peaks and troughs. When things are buoyant, demand for key talent rises, and candidate salary expectations rise with it. A sustained drop in business demand can also lead to a drop in salary level expectations of potential candidates within the affected sector. When your particular niche is busy, recruiting from an allied sector that is in a lull can provide a source of good talent that is also good value.
5. Competitive edge.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the woods for the trees and it’s important to view the situation from an outsider’s perspective in order to solve the problem. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review* asked hundreds of roofers, carpenters, and inline skaters to suggest solutions to the problem of workers’ reluctance to use safety gear because of discomfort in each of the fields. The results found that each group were significantly better at thinking of innovative solutions for the other fields than for its own.
Sourcing from your competitors means that you are hiring their ideas, however those may not be the best ideas.
For some senior hires, opening up the market might be just what your company needs to shake things up and promote growth and innovation. It doesn’t come without its challenges however. It’s important to ensure the position being recruited attracts the attention of a wider market. You may need to redefine the parameters of the job spec. Focus more on the skills required, rather than industry-specific experience and avoid specific jargon and acronyms.
You might also need to consider how the new markets will be targeted. If your network in these unfamiliar sectors is small or non-existent, how are you going to get the message across to potential candidates that you want them to join your team?
Get in touch with us HERE to see how we can help you with your outside-the-box executive search strategy.