|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
35 Years in
The job hunter who asked this question finished with, “Even when I have the right job skills for the job, this bias always seems to kill my chances.” Industry bias is a challenge, but there is a solution.
When employers interview candidates from other industries, they first look for ability and suitability. Ability speaks to the technical skills you use to execute the responsibilities of your job. If you got as far as the interview, you clearly have these skills. The issue of “suitability” speaks to a set of less easily defined concerns, and this is where industry bias springs from.
The roots of industry bias
Every industry develops distinctive characteristics in response to the unique qualities of the service it delivers to customers. Every company is engaged in industry-specific methodologies and challenges, and there are always idiosyncratic situations and sensitivities that arise from the nature of that industry’s product or service. Industries then develop their own languages, priorities, and “ways of doing things” in a natural response to the uniqueness of their position.”
A candidate who does not ”speak the lingo” is seen as having a longer, steeper learning curve. This means more time and money in training and greater odds of a failed hire, both of which managers prefer to avoid.
So, industry bias springs from real concerns about a candidate’s understanding of the building blocks of commerce in the new industry: the language that speeds communication for its services; the myriad problems likely to crop up in the job every day; and the working relationships necessary to execute on the company’s promise of excellent service or product.
The solutions to industry bias
Whatever your job title, your job exists in this new industry, just as it does in your current industry, to identify, prevent, and solve the problems that occur within your areas of responsibility in a timely and professional manner. This manner must demonstrate consideration, not only of company resources and client and vendor needs, but also for all your new colleagues. This understanding will be at the core of both your research into the new industry and your subsequent positioning at job interviews.
How do you deal with this? Give yourself a “new industry 101” orientation course. Take the time to understand the unique qualities of service that define your target industry, and the challenges these present to the workers within the industry.
Identify people already doing this work: they can educate you about these issues, and tell you why things work the way they do. You can ask these questions of contacts in your alumni or professional association, your professional networks, or on industry/profession specific groups on LinkedIn. You can also search databases on LinkedIn and other social networking sites for people who have made similar transitions.
The insights you gather will enable you to build bridges of understanding between where you stand today and the unique qualities of the industry where you want to stand tomorrow. When an employer in the target industry sees that you have demonstrated your understanding of the issues unique to that industry, he also sees the learning curve and the risks associated with hiring you diminish.
You can learn more about jump-starting your career with help on job search, networking and interviews at my free weekly webcast: http://my.knockemdead.com/.
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