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Successful professionals caught in unsuccessful industries

Thank you to Matt Tovrog, associate partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search. Matt is a colleague and well-respected recruiter here in Atlanta, for this article:

As an executive recruiter and active career ministry volunteer, I meet with all kinds of exceptional professionals engaged in an active job search. These individuals are out of work, frustrated with their current job, or know intuitively they need to start their search process. Many of them are (or were) top performers at their companies, but have fallen victim to working in an industry severely impacted by the economy. Real estate, construction, manufacturing, banking, professional consulting and the auto industry are the most prevalent industries forcing employees to seek greener pastures.

The majority of the candidates I speak with are looking for a more stable opportunity within their field, or they want a new start in a completely different industry. In the latter, which has become more common, individuals view their industry as one that’s suffering and will not return to prosperity anytime soon. These professionals are typically well educated, have great references, and are confident in their abilities but frustrated with what they view as the bureaucratic, close-minded mentality companies have about hiring outside their industry.

Their frustrations have merit. They see companies with open positions less interested in finding the most talented candidates and more interested in finding candidates with industry experience. But at the same time, should these organizations be faulted for that? The available talent pool is richer than ever so they have the luxury of being picky. According to Jennifer Matthews, HR manager at Murata Electronics: “A bigger pool of applicants also means that the employer can be highly selective in setting the minimum criteria used for candidate selection, and industry experience definitely sets the candidates apart.”

With so many people on the job market, hiring companies look for both talent and industry experience. If a job requirement has 20 key responsibilities, employers want candidates who can check “yes” next to each bullet point and also have a successful track record of industry experience. Training programs and on-boarding time frames are being reduced because it is more critical these days for new hires to make an immediate impact.

This is especially true in revenue-producing roles where the hired candidates are expected to not only know the industry, but bring with them a healthy Rolodex of contacts and cast iron business development opportunities. I’ve spoken with candidates where the interviewer required them to share their vision on the direction of the company, reveal strategies they would implement if hired, and discuss sales opportunities they would look to achieve and how they would close those deals if hired.

So the question remains; how do you overcome your lack of industry experience when applying for a job that doesn’t correlate with your previous experiences?

The answer is to identify your passion, conduct thorough research, and connect with the hiring manager.

Read the remainder of the article here.

Hallie Crawford
Certified Career Coach

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