Is your team lacking a skill or perspective? Over time, it’s easy to recruit a talented group of hires that end up bringing the same skills and perspectives to your company. Without even realizing it, you could be reinforcing one viewpoint and increasing the risk for groupthink, the enemy of innovation and creativity.

Identifying talent gaps – and recruiting to fill these gaps – is one of the best ways to address the shortcomings of a particular team or department. As a General Manager, I also encourage the companies I work with to take this strategy one step further and consider recruiting talented hires from outside the industry.

Recently, my team employed this strategy when working with an industry-leading company. Despite being at the top of their industry, the hiring manager expressed concern that the company’s year-on-year growth was beginning to stagnate. We worked with the hiring manager to identify leaders outside their industry with a unique perspective. Ultimately, their new hire helped the company identify and transfer best practices from other industries– keeping the company securely ahead of the competition.

Here’s why hiring from outside your industry is such a powerful recruitment tool and how you can successfully implement this strategy:

Identify a Big-Picture Goal

Start with the big picture. Benchmark your business against the industry as a whole and your top competition. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do you want to be in one year or five years?
  • How do you expect your competition to innovate?
  • What do you need to do to stay ahead or become an industry leader in your own right?

Work backwards to identify specific, achievable business goals that will help you reach these benchmarks. Then narrow your focus to candidates that have proven track records helping other companies achieve similar goals.

Pinpoint Short Term Needs

In addition to focusing on long-term goals, find candidates that can help you meet your short-term needs. Identify your team’s more immediate needs by asking the following questions:

  • Does your team need someone who is adept at generating leads or someone with a track record of closing deals?
  • Is your lead generation strong but your nurturing process weak, or vice versa?
  • Is morale flagging because your business consistently trails the competition?
  • If your business is currently the industry leader, are you worried about maintaining this competitive edge?

Hone In on Specific Personnel Needs

The most important part of this equation requires you to focus on your particular sales force or leadership needs. If you’ve had a hard time understanding the luxury market, recruit candidates from other luxury companies outside your industry. For example, if Audi was struggling to understand the luxury market, the company should look for candidates from other luxury companies, like LVMH, Richemont and Kering, rather than Ford or Toyota.

Have you ever hired an outside candidate who filled in an important gap in a team’s knowledge base? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.


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