With economic uncertainty ever present, many organisations are reluctant to take risks when it comes to their hiring decisions. With tight budgets and a focus on smart talent acquisition, companies are displaying increased caution with regard to who they take on.
For many marketing jobs, there’s an increasing trend of companies only wishing to recruit from within their own industry sector, and often for very specific skillsets. In general, marketing departments are the first to feel the pinch in slow economic times and therefore feel under pressure to advance their marketing resources quickly, but carefully. The need to demonstrate ROI remains prevalent. 
The skillsets marketing now needs to encompass are also much more diverse than they used to be. With the onset of various forms of social media and other advertising mediums it is now essential that online content, video, design and digital marketing are included in the marketer’s skillset. There are also now explicit roles for CRM and database specialists that sit within the wider marketing and communications remit.
 

Why is sector experience so desirable?

In many instances, candidates are rejected on the basis that they don’t have enough specific sector experience. With the general anxiety around hiring, organisations are looking for skilled individuals who can add immediate value and deliver real value to their bottom line.
Whatever industry you work in, your potential employer will want to be sure that you understand their client and customer groups and will therefore view sector experience as a good sign that you’re in tune with these needs.  Particularly within financial services, telecoms, professional services, retail and FMCG industries, employers are keen for new hires to hit the ground running. Naturally, it will take candidates with relevant sector experience less time to get up to speed in the role.
Often, with many skilled candidates all vying for the same job, employers have the luxury of picking from a wealth of talent to find just the right combination of skills and experience they’re looking for. If a marketing professional has delivered impressive results in a certain sector, there will be confidence from the employer that they can replicate this success again within a similar industry.
 

Problems with playing it safe

By playing it safe and only recruiting within their sector, some organisations could be hampering development, inspiration and opportunities within their marketing division. Fear of the ‘outsider’ could prove a mistake and mean that employers are losing out on highly motivated, skilled and valuable talent.
Cross-sector recruiting can bring with it fresh perspectives and innovation, helping marketing teams to grow in their knowledge, expertise and outlook. Playing safe and attempting to employ failure-proof candidates can stifle the creative pool and restrict the scope of skills.
In addition, candidates can be left feeling frustrated at their inability to shift into new roles and diversify their experience. Candidates can begin to feel restricted and pigeon-holed by their previous experience.
 
Organisations are looking for skilled individuals who can add immediate value and deliver real value to their bottom line

The benefits of change 

New ideas and fresh perspectives are of great value, and particularly important to the marketing discipline.
Benefits of hiring new skillsets and alternative industry experience include:
  1. Injecting a well-needed boost of creativity to a flagging team
  2. Finding a new way of thinking about marketing strategies
  3. Employees that are more malleable and flexible in their approach
  4. Excitement around the business and product, rather than the candidate arriving already set in their ways
Read more about how hiring for specific skillsets and experience can be complex.  To discover how our experience can add value to your marketing recruitment, please get in touch with your local Michael Page office or browse all our current marketing jobs.

Summary

It's understandable that many hiring managers insist that candidates have specific, relevant skills and sector experience before being considered for a role. However, this may be a short sighted approach that misses opportunities to secure valuable talent.

  • 'Playing it safe' by refusing to consider outside-the-box candidates can hamper innovation and development
  • You may end up paying a premium for sector-specific candidates if they're in short supply
  • Diversified experience benefits employees as well
  • Candidates from outside your specific sector can bring a fresh perspective
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