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Why Job Seekers and Hiring Managers Need to Change Their Attitude!

Published 07 October 2015

In my previous articles, “I’m sorry but you need industry experience…” and “So you want to change industries…” I explored if industry experience was actually seen as essential when changing roles within marketing, and what individuals could do if they decided they would like to move out of the sector they are currently in. The results were interesting, with the general opinion being that in most instances, industry experience is not necessary and with a tailored approach to looking for your next role, the transition should be relatively pain free.

Yet there are always instances where industry experience is vital, states Cal Dubresson, VP of Field Marketing at Infor. She discussed that for some roles in certain industries, especially those that involve managing a team, the manager would be the main point of contact for industry expertise, a role which would be impossible to fulfil without experience in that particular industry. Paul Brent, Marketing Director of Boyes Turner, supports this, stating that although industry experience within marketing is not always essential, in some industries, such as finance, there can be a multitude of rules and regulations that take time to acquire, and thus it would be prudent to have knowledge of these prior to starting a new role.

With organisations struggling to fill roles, it would be easy to consider them unreasonable in terms of their expectations of candidates, and perhaps if they were more open minded in terms of candidate background this would go some way to alleviating the problem. However, having spoken with a number of marketing professionals, it is clear that candidates must also realise that it is their responsibility to highlight the experience they have that is relevant for a particular role, which in turn encourages open-mindedness in the person reviewing the CV. Katarzyna Malinowska, Marketing and Events Manager at SUEZ, discussed how, when reviewing applications, she looks for transferable skills and a demonstration of an appetite for learning.

With all this in mind, below are some tips for hiring managers struggling to fill vacancies and candidates who are looking to move industries.

3 Tips for hiring managers

  1. If you are struggling to fill a marketing role because you can’t find a person with industry experience, look at the core purpose of the position. Is the most important factor that the person has the right marketing experience or that they are an expert in the industry? It may be that you are focusing on the wrong thing.
  2. If you are unsure that someone has the capability to pick up the knowledge specific to the industry, set a task in interview that requires candidates to show that they have done some research into the particular industry. This will allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to acquire new skills as well as their general initiative.
  3. Be open minded when reviewing CVs. Focus on key achievements, rather than the companies the person has worked for. It could be the difference between you hiring the best candidate for the job or not.

3 Tips for jobseekers

  1. If you want to change industries think carefully about your key achievements and what you can bring to a role, aside from industry expertise. If you can’t highlight this on your CV, it is unlikely that a hiring manager will pick this out either.
  2. Do in-depth research on the industry you are applying for a role within. This will allow you to identify any potential stumbling blocks and be best prepared to overcome them. It will also allow you to demonstrate in interview that you have the ability and desire to learn.
  3. Use your network. If you know someone who works in that industry, speak to them! They will be able to give you a good insight into what it’s like to work in that industry, which will in turn give you a clue as to whether you will actually enjoy working in it.