There’s an assumption that often runs through recruitment, that industry experience is necessary. That somehow the experience of a particular environment is more important than the skills and knowledge that may have been developed. It has happened to me in my career that I’ve not been considered for a job because, “they’re looking for someone with experience in x industry”.
I find this peculiar. In my career I’ve worked in,
the public sector
In my team, we have people from a range of backgrounds, transport,manufacturing, media and financial services. But something I noticed over time was we have a lot of people who’ve worked in retail.
A disproportionate amount.
I tweeted something about this last week
and the response was really interesting. In general, there was a lot of positive reaction. But, of course, some people tried to argue the point. So let me tell you what I think.
No career path is the same and there is no “right” way to develop your career. But certain sectors provide a quicker, more intense training ground and experience than others. And retail is one of those.
Because it is fast paced, fundamentally aligned to the brand, customer focused, varied and genuinely commercial. Pretty much everyone working for a retailer understands why they are there, what they are there to deliver and their role in making that happen.
Each of the sectors that I’ve worked in have given me something different and something challenging, but as a learning ground, I don’t think anything was as formative as my time in retail. And when I recruit good people, a lot but not all, come from retail backgrounds.
So that doesn’t mean that good people only come from retail, or that retail produces only good people. But there is a higher likelihood that you’ll find a bright, commercially astute, experienced and organisationally focussed individual. They might add something to your organisation, even if they haven’t worked in that sector.
The myth of recruiting within sector is dangerous, arrogant and essentially lazy. Cross pollination is the new black, variety is the spice of life and change is the new normal.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
It’s just the way it is.