Should your new hire be from a competitor?

by Adam Kurdas

Should your new hire be from a competitor?

When hiring managers seek to add new talent to their team, the first inclination is often to look for the easiest fit - candidates who have come from a direct competitor. These candidates have industry relevant experience, know the customers and the suppliers, and are often able to hit the ground running in a very short time frame. But what about talented individuals with a different industry background?

Within Supply Chain and Procurement, we are receiving updates from our clients that often their best hires are candidates who have come from a similar role in a different background. There are several possible reasons for this, and a myriad of factors that play a part. Candidates willing to take the step into a new industry often back themselves to learn at a faster rate. They often come in with new viewpoints and are willing to challenge the status quo of outdated practices - they don't know what "can't be done".

Perhaps most importantly, passion/drive/engagement (choose your buzz word) are not limited to one industry! In our extremely competitive job market, candidates who can 'do the job' no longer cut it - soft skills like stakeholder management, proactive problem solving, and commercial thinking are the difference between a seat filler and elite talent. Moreover if a person is willing to actively seek out a change in industry, they are more likely to ask for additional responsibilities, career development, and be ambitious to chase new opportunities internally rather than stagnate in a repetitive and comfortable function.

Presumably if you bring a person in for an interview, you're already comfortable from their CV that they have the right skill set to do the job. The point of difference is often in the intangibles; matching the candidate drivers with the medium and long term business drivers of the client. In an increasingly transactional recruitment market this point of difference is what enables us to find long term solutions that may be outside the initial brief, and requires a degree of trust and partnership on both sides. Lateral thinking from your recruitment partner is just as important as it is from your key managers in the business.

The right hire can be the lifeblood of the business, and this requires a recruiter who is consultative, open, and understands the real key drivers and expectations of a role that is much more complex than a two page position description.