Interesting pronouncement but I assure you you that it did not come from my mouth to heaven’s ears. Several years ago when I thought about trying to return to the full time corporate side of HR a seasoned recruiter made the comment after looking at my resume. He was basing this on the fact that since graduating from college I have been in a number of positions within a number of industries. But the statement is more telling of the state of the recruiting industry then it is of my skill sets.
Let me explain that a little more. The typical recruiter today works with blinders on when looking at the candidates available in the workplace. If they are not currently in a position (i.e. passive candidate), they discard them. If they don’t have the skills from a particular industry they are out. If they don’t meet this preconceived notion of what the ideal candidate looks like you are out.
The journey towards corporate excellence and innovation is grounded in diversity of ideas, skills and actions. When we concentrate on trying to fit a square peg into a round hole it plain does not work. As the economy begins its turnaround and a majority of our human capital assets are beginning to consider jumping ship it is critical that both internal and external recruiters change their focus.
The Toyota Corporation has taught us that when you hire for skills rather than industry match you find a larger audience for your talent needs. As described in Jeffrey Liker’s book Toyota Talent when they opened their plant in Kentucky they looked for people who had the required Key Performing Indicators not necessarily industry experience and the results were as good as they expected. Consider something as simple as creating an excel spreadsheet for recording data. The steps are the same as if you were creating one for a manufacturing environment or a healthcare environment. The skill is the same no matter where you work. The same can be said for management skills.
So when the professional recruiter said to me on that day back in time that I was his worst nightmare, he was short changing both the economy and his client. I am fully cognizant of the fact that every industry believes that there are certain skills that apply only to their industry, but in fact it has been proven over and over again that our human capital assets through their career obtain skills that are transferable across industry lines. The next time you decide to try and fit that square peg into a round hole, stop for a moment and think about whether you are truly giving your organization a chance to grow or are you content to keep in the same pigeon hole you have always worked in. I get it that there are some position skills that do require specific skills ( i.e. an auto mechanic or a surgeon) but for the most part we all bring valuable skills to the table and each individual given the chance can show how they can benefit your organization with the accumulation of skills they have acquired during their careers.
The Beatles had a song in which one of the lines was “Give Peace a Chance”. Turn it around and ask yourself whether you can give a prospective talent a chance to thrive in your organization.