When supply outweighs demand, an organisation will usually narrow their shortlising criteria based on who has relevant industry experience, thinking that it is essential. It sounds logical, but should it be the defining factor?
Are they missing out on other attributes which are not currently within their organisation by looking for more of the same?
At a time when organisations are looking to innovate, perhaps they should be thinking more innovatively when it comes to who they recruit by bringing on people with a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective.
So as a candidate how do you increase your chances of a lateral industry move? It’s one thing for you to think you can make the transition, but how do you convince the buyer?
Firstly, acknowledge that this bias is often at play and think about how you can work with it. Draw on the synergies between the industry you have developed experience in, and identify the parallels with the industry you are trying to move into. For example, I’ve seen people successfully transition between defence, construction and mining based on the fact that typically all three environments run large scale projects. There’s also synergy between the wine and manufacturing sector, hospitality and hospitals. Local government is a very diverse environment and can draw on backgrounds from a range of industries outside of local government.
Secondly, don’t try and make two career moves in the one move. Typically if you are looking to enter a new industry sector stay with roles that are close to home with your skill set. So if you are looking to move up from a CFO role into a CEO position in a new sector, you might need to transition across into another CFO role and then move up.
Thirdly, build a compelling case around your skill set and how that will help the organisation deliver against its big picture strategic objectives. In challenging times organisations are doing things they haven’t done before. How will your experience help them get there?
Just remember, when someone is looking through your application, they need to see a connection between what you’ve done and what they are looking to achieve. It needs to make sense to them.