Job Interview

Should you Recruit from Outside your Industry?

Job InterviewWhenever I take a job spec from a client I always ask the question, “would you consider someone from outside your industry, with no sector knowledge?”

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the time my clients are seeking someone from within their industry, ideally with knowledge of the products, the market and potential customers and invariably the reason given is that they can “hit the ground running”

But is this necessarily the best answer?

Interestingly when you look at the appointment of CEOs in large blue-chip companies the successful candidate often comes from outside the industry with little or no sector knowledge but with proven leadership skills, the main prerequisite for the role. They will then spend their first few months acclimatising to the new industry, observing and learning before taking putting together their own management team and taking control of the business.

So why is it that, if this works at the top of a company, it isn’t applied when recruiting sales people?

It is perfectly logical to think that by hiring the candidate with industry knowledge they will automatically make a fast start, they will need less training, the induction process will be easier and they will be making you money sooner. But, by making the obvious choice you are losing the opportunity to recruit some excellent candidates, high calibre sales people who, with no preconceived ideas of what is right for the industry, can bring a fresh perspective to your sales team boosting sales in ways you could not have imagined.

It is much easier and cheaper to teach someone about a new product range than it is to train them on sales skills so rather than making the obvious hire, why not broaden the search and and make your number one requirement “A proven sales record” …in any industry

As the economy continues to grow it is going to become increasingly difficult to find skilled people from within specific industries. Setting very specific recruitment criteria and not broadening your search can make for a painful, long-winded recruitment process.

By broadening the search, widening the net, and recruiting on the basis of abilities and attitudes rather than industry experience, you are allowing yourself a much wider pool of candidates who are the “right candidate” which inevitably will lead to better hiring decisions in a shorter time. Good for business?

Twelve Mistakes to Avoid When Recruiting

mistakes to avoid when recruitingFinding the right person for a role is difficult enough so it’s best to avoid shooting yourself in the foot by making mistakes in the recruitment process. Here’s my list of twelve mistakes to avoid when recruiting plus a few tips.

Write a list of essential skills and experience and stick to it throughout the recruitment process.

Take time to think about the role and the person. Even if it is a job that you have recruited for before, it’s always worth taking a fresh look at things. Has the role changed, is now a good time to review things, are there any extra skills that might be useful in a changing business or marketplace?

The temptation when you’re short staffed is to rush into recruitment. Recruit in haste ….repent at leisure.

Hire for the future. What plans does your business have? Is now a good time to recruit someone with the skills that you will need in twelve months’ time. This works well for the business and also gives the successful candidate a way to develop and take on additional responsibilities. What better way to make them feel valued and keep them motivated?

Don’t just automatically look for someone with the same skill set as everyone else on the team. It’s tempting to stick with what you know but some diversity, extra skills, varied experience and new ideas can strengthen a team.

Never take a gamble on someone who hasn’t got the necessary skills and experience. The cost of a mistake in recruitment is too high. Maybe you really clicked with someone at interview, but if they haven’t got the skills and experience that you need, that you defined at the outset, liking them is not a good enough reason to hire them. Sales people spend their lives building rapport, so you would expect to like them at interview. Stay objective!

At interview ask for specific real examples of how they have worked before. Ask for evidence. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive so don’t recruit until you have satisfied yourself that they are capable of fulfilling the role.

Always always reference. If their previous employer has gone out of business (quite common these days) ask for client references. A good salesman should be happy to supply these.

Avoid aggressive interview techniques. I know that the “Apprentice” TV show seems to suggest that these are all the rage at the moment but remember that the candidates of today could be the clients of tomorrow and with social media becoming more and more popular you can soon find your reputation in tatters and future recruitment even more difficult.

Use the recruitment process to set realistic expectations of the job. That way, when the successful candidate starts they will know exactly what is expected of them.

Sell your company and the role. Interviews are two way streets. I have seen plenty of job offers turned down because the interviewer failed to sell the role or the company.

And finally………..let people know how they did. Give honest, helpful feedback. You might be the other side of the table one day!