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Why employing people without any local or specific industry experience is sometimes a good strategy

Recently I was doing some review and feedback sessions about the performance of my recruits and placements from the last FY.  As a Senior Recruiter and Career Coach, I work with all types of professionals.  I unknowingly noticed a trend among clear stand out performers.  When I went back to check all my data, tracking reports and information, I was a bit surprised.

The candidates who had turned out to be the most stable and best performing candidates were not those who had a consistent record of accomplishment in the same industry.  They were actually those people who had no recent local or industry experience in the area in which they were working!  This is contrary to what most recruiters or some HR Managers think today.

Their thinking is unless you have local experience or specific domain industry experience you cannot hit the deck running or you are not a good performer.  No.  Not always true.

In fact, not true in a lot of the cases.  Last year few of my clients decided to give opportunities to people who came from different industry backgrounds to work within their team.  Some of them were new migrants and some of them were mid-level senior age professionals from another industry doing a career change.  They were offered trial contracts on my recommendation and insistence.  These clients have trusted me as their recruiter and HR advocate.

Coming back to the results, these were the very people that screamed for attention.  Those that have been given a chance to contribute after being rejected at a lot of places for lack of local experience, or being over qualified, or too senior were the best performers in their teams!  In the operational, accounting and admin roles in some cases they are the top performers beating all other team members!

Why is this so, you ask me?  I interviewed all these candidates and clients again and found out the big motivation to make sure they did well was always at the back of their mind.  They contributed to the maximum level, over and above what was expected from them.  They knew they will not get a second chance after getting rejected on various grounds previously.  They had this one opportunity to make it happen and prove themselves.  There was no back door and no front door unless they fly through, learn the ropes quickly and made it happen.

These candidates have something known as life experience in a different or related industry.  They all were humble and very easily mould into the company culture.  They kept their company’s goals and targets in mind above everything else, in fact above their own short-term career aspirations.  It’s like having a big loyalty towards the employer who gave you, your much-required big break.   

I think it’s time we revisit age old recruitment norms or paradigms that people with specific domain industry experience or local experience are better suited for all vacant positions.  Not at all!  It depends on the industry, type of role and experience required.  Most mid aged candidates and new migrants were the good performers in most of the roles.  They are also not the hop skip jump candidates, they don’t look around for a new role for a few extra dollars, every few months.  It’s up to you to give them a chance.  They are ready to invest their skills, ability, and knowledge in your team.  Are you ready to give them a go?



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