No clever, punchy headline today. Instead, a statement about which I feel very strongly. In the past several weeks, both I and friends who are in the marketing field and seeking contract or permanent employment, have had potential employers or people we network with make comments indicating that they didn’t think were appropriate for a particular job in a particular industry because we had no industry experience. Or, we’ve had comments along the same vein made to us that the hiring company was likely to, or was going to, proceed with another candidate who had experience in that’s company’s industry. And, we’ve been told, “well, I would have spoken with you about X,Y,Z opportunity, but I thought you were only interested in or able to do work in X,Y,Z industry”.
My whole career I’ve never forgotten a statement made by my then VP of Marketing and Sales. He told his staff at a team-building event, “don’t just strive to be the best in our industry, strive to be the best in any industry. Look at what world-class organizations are doing in other industries, and not just ours”. I never forgot that. At the time, I was employed at a health plan that had unfortunately allowed itself to become a bit of a dinosaur, relying on past achievements, and not keeping up with the times. He encouraged us to look toward world-class organizations such as FedEx for inspiration and role models. At that health plan, as part of a sales conference I helped plan, we had a speaker from a leading hotel chain that had received accolades for outstanding customer service, address our group. The hotel representative talked a lot of about how to improve customer experience by thinking outside the box.
I digressed a little, but it was with a definite purpose. The above reinforces, that quite often, both an employee and employer benefit when an employee has been able to work in and/or get exposure to different industries. I’ve found this to be very true in my case. At this point, between my permanent positions and my various contract and agency positions, I’ve served clients in or worked in the following industries: healthcare (health plans and hospitals), financial services (both investments and banking), higher education, consumer goods (health and beauty, food, and more), manufacturing, hospitality, private investigation, non-profits serving vulnerable populations, real estate, and I’m sure there are more.
I believe without a doubt that employers and clients both have benefitted greatly from the fact that I am able to bring best practices and innovation from other industries to any work with which I am involved. And, without a doubt, I’ve grown professionally, mentally, and emotionally from having exposure to so many distinct industries with their distinct challenges. It’s kept my mind sharp, kept me learning, and kept me quite happy.
I’ll just close with this simple hope — that employers won’t shut out/dismiss potential contract or permanent employees because of lack of industry experience, particularly us marketing and communications folks. My experience has proven that marketing and communications skills are extremely transferable across industries, and as long as a potential hire is intelligent, they can fairly readily learn the nuances, opportunities, and challenges of any industry. And, they’ll likely bring an open mind to the situation and discover some opportunities that someone who’s worked in an industry for years might not bring.