United Gas and Power recently completed a diversity and inclusion survey and found that 53% of our employees had not worked in the energy sector prior to joining us. It got us thinking about whether the best choice of candidate may not always be the obvious and if Industry experience really is a critical success factor, or whether softer skills, such as cultural fit, ultimately determine long-term performance and help to build a rich, diverse workplace.
While we are by no means saying that hiring people with Industry experience would not be beneficial, we believe it’s also important to look beyond basic hard skills and experience, considering people with a breadth of experience to enhance your organisation. Here’s five reasons why you should consider hiring people from outside of your industry:
“Industry fatigue” is a well-known concept that can limit fresh ideas and innovative thought. People with extensive industry experience are often seen as hires that can “hit the ground running” however this comes at a cost.
They may be limited by their restricted view of your industry and have pre-conceived ideas of what is and isn’t possible in your particular sector. Hiring people with broader sector experience may bring an innovative approach and ideas that can ultimately help you to step outside of industry conventions, challenge the norm and help your organisation to grow.
2) Soft skills versus hard skills
Soft skills, such as communication skills, organisational skills or problem-solving skills do not apply to one specific sector. It’s easy to get blinded by industry experience and overlook some of the core competencies or softer skills needed to succeed in the role or organisation.
By recruiting outside of your industry, and broadening your pool of talent, you’re far more likely to find people who tick all of the competency boxes. It may take someone a little longer to get up to speed with industry knowledge, but in a lot of cases this can be easily achieved and you’ll find that someone from outside of the sector will be keen to learn. It’s far harder to teach someone effective communication skills or teamwork when they simply do not possess those qualities.
3) Limit your costs
If you are continually looking to your competitors for people with industry experience to recruit from, the chances are that you’ll have to offer higher wages to motivate them to leave their current employment. Over time, salaries will continue to climb and your payroll costs escalate. By hiring from another industry, you’ll have more to offer candidates than simply an increase in wages, such as the excitement of working in a new sector, training and development opportunities.
4) Increase diversity and flexibility
At UGP we’re big believers in a diverse workforce. Whilst the most obvious forms of diversity include essential elements such as race and age, diversity in terms of career background can be just as beneficial in helping to create an inclusive, open-minded working environment. In addition, hiring people with new ways of thinking is likely to make your business more flexible and adaptable to change.
5) Employee engagement
Exploring new talent pools and hiring someone with the potential and soft skills necessary to thrive in the role provides the employer with a fantastic opportunity to offer personal development and career growth. Employees who feel as if they are being developed are far more likely to feel engaged, stick at the role longer and ultimately improve your employee retention rate.
To paraphrase a well-known saying “the definition of insanity is hiring the same people over and over again and expecting different results”. While people with industry knowledge have an important part to play in creating an experienced work force, there are many benefits to hiring outside of your industry that should not be underestimated.
There’s strength in diversity
At United Gas & Power we’re proud of our diverse workforce. Having a strong mix of experienced industry professionals as well as people from outside our industry, it’s helped us to propel our business forward and we were recently recognised by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 as one of the fastest growing UK businesses. If you want to work for a company that values your abilities and potential and not just your background, get in touch via our careers page.