Every week we speak to many experienced candidates who are looking for a new project management opportunity in a sector or industry where they have no direct experience. There’s often any number of reasons why they are looking to do this the main ones being:
- To broaden their horizons and increase their skill set.
- To prevent the profession from becoming stale for them.
- To experience new challenges.
However, they typically find themselves stuck, only ever being hired to that one specific industry where they have demonstrable experience. It’s like project management’s own version of typecasting in Hollywood.
If only some employers could see past the “must have previous experience within the XX sector” they would be opening up a wider project management talent pool to fish in and expose their organisations to new talent. On numerous occasions over the last few months, excellent candidates have been shortlisted by Arras People to present to clients only to see knock backs due to the sector they have previously worked in.
Sometimes this can be justified, for example in construction or engineering environment where a specific type of project experience might be crucial, which may also be linked to a professional status. But in many organisations, it is a comfort blanket, based on familiarity rather than fact.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring Outside the “Talent Pool”?
A prime example has been the public sector – MUST have prior experience of the public sector. Why? There is a danger of only recruiting like for like, of never bringing in new talent with new ideas, if the face don’t fit…. one could go so far as to suggest that it is a form of discrimination?
If an industry has a reluctance to go outside of their industry-specific “talent pool” then they run the risk of their projects and therefore industry going stale. The same ideas being churned as the same people get cycled through.
Allowing workers to mix and match where they work will allow fresh ideas to come and go as well as bringing a new energy and eagerness that can only be beneficial for the project.
We have actually spoken to some who believe it may actually be better for the success of a project to have someone in charge who won’t or can’t be distracted by industry-specific things. They are there to manage the project and have experts in the team who provide the detailed knowledge and insight.
In other organisations there is often confusion around the role of the project manager, clients want “2 for the price of 1”! The PM is expected to be an “expert” in the detail such as code production as well as project management. Leading to conflicting priorities and therefore will be less efficient in both roles.
It may take a little more time to get these people on board but with the world shouting about skills shortages it may become more necessary if open roles are to be filled.
Let us know in the comments if you have experienced this from either side. Why do you think that the reluctance is there?