Changing Sectors

2 May 2023

How important is industry experience in a recruitment process?

In the Executive Search industry, it is important to have a delicate balance between supporting and challenging one's clients.

As an Executive Search company, you are tasked with finding the best possible candidates for a given position and presenting them to the client. But how do you find the right balance between meeting the client's requirements and challenging their view of what the ideal candidate is?

One of the factors that often plays an important role is industry experience. Clients often have a strong opinion about the profile they are looking for and may be inclined to look for candidates with direct experience in their industry. As Executive Search consultants, it is our job to understand our clients' needs while broadening their horizons and introducing them to potential candidates who may not have direct industry experience.

While industry experience can be an advantage, it is important to have a broader approach to the recruitment process. By only looking for candidates with direct industry experience, you risk overlooking candidates who have transferable skills and competencies from other industries that can be transferred and benefit the client. It is our job to understand what skills and attributes are critical to the position and find candidates who match those requirements, regardless of whether they have direct industry experience or not.

It is also important to remember that industry experience does not necessarily guarantee success. Candidates with lots of industry experience may still have weaknesses and limitations, and it's important to find the best candidate for the job, regardless of their previous experience. As Executive Search consultants, it is our job to evaluate the candidates on a wide range of factors, including their skills, personality and potential, to find the best match for the client.

In the end, it's about having the right balance between supporting and challenging the client. As Executive Search consultants, it is our responsibility to understand our clients' needs and present them with candidates who can meet those needs. But we also have an obligation to challenge their views and expand their horizons so they can find the best possible candidate for their organization, whether they have direct industry experience or not.

Peter Krogsgaard, SVP Commercial at Copenhagen Airport, has the following considerations, "I myself have made several industry changes from Retail, to Telecom, over the IT industry to my position today, as responsible for the commercial part of running Copenhagen Airport. I have focused on hiring talented managers, regardless of whether the management experience is from the same industry or a different industry. I have focused on two overall competencies: The intellectual capacity – the ability to understand the value creation and the ecosystem in a new industry, as well as the candidate's personality, drive, motivation, etc. Together, it often quickly provides direction, structure and momentum.”

We have outlined the most important properties in the 4 points below. Some of the most common transferable skills and competencies that can be transferred from one industry to another include:

  • Communication skills: Good communication skills are important in almost every industry. The ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing is essential to building relationships with customers, colleagues and managers.>
  • Management and teamwork: Management and teamwork are important in a wide range of industries. Being able to motivate and inspire others, delegate tasks and collaborate with colleagues is essential to success in many roles.
  • Analytical Skills: Analytical skills are important in industries that involve data and statistics, such as finance, healthcare and technology. But they are also useful in other industries where there is a need to be able to make decisions based on complex information.
  • Digitization and Automation: With the increasing digitization in many industries, there is an increased demand for skills in technology, data analysis and digital marketing. These skills are transferable from the technology and marketing industry to other industries where there is a need to understand and apply technological solutions. Automation and process optimization are also important skills in many industries where efficiency and cost savings are essential.

But what about you?

Have you tried a change of industry or have you yourself hired someone who had no industry experience? And what is your experience with this?


We support our clients wherever they do business

We have offices and people in many of the world's major cities.
Find an office
test map
© 2023 – 2024 J. Friisberg International S.A. – All Rights Reserved.