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Why you should look outside your industry for executive talent

Jake Shuckburgh, head of Allen Associate’s Executive recruitment division, explains why you should look further afield if you want to find the best executive talent.

As an executive recruiter, I am always concerned with the potential hurdles faced by my clients in finding their ideal senior level recruits. One such hurdle is the seeming reluctance of companies to consider candidates from outside their industries.

Despite this being an understandable precaution in turbulent economic times, this means that companies are missing valuable recruits and potentially hindering the potential growth of their business through lack of diversity.

On a daily basis, I meet a multitude of incredibly talented and successful candidates with a genuine desire to diversify their experience and move in to other industries.

But why look at new industries?

These candidates are looking for a new challenge, they are passionate about utilising their experience and they bring hugely valuable new perspective to situations which may require a new set of eyes for the ideal outcome.

But there are some companies who take a broader and more open approach to their recruitment and believe in embracing candidates from different industries. These in my opinion are the ones who get a truly diverse workforce, a workforce that offers positive disruption and new and exciting insight into culture and procedures.

The reasons for the reluctance to explore new industry professionals are fairly obvious, however not taking what may seem a risk can affect the ability of a company to adapt and flourish in new markets, or indeed in times of expansion.

Employees who have spent all their careers in one industry may not have experienced new and innovative ways of working which can be brought by candidates from new industries.

A great example

General Motors are a good example of how external influence can be positive. After three consecutive CEO’s who were GM lifers and who failed to improve performance within the business, they decided to take a chance and employ Ed Whitacre who was a Senior Exec at AT&T with no automotive experience at all.

He was able to implement significant change and growth within the business in a very short time and his effect ensured that GM considered candidates from a number of industries as his successor.

The bottom line is that having a diverse and multi-skilled senior management team, with experience in numerous industries and scenarios can give your business a huge amount if insight which your competitors may not have.

So, when you next consider applicants for a senior role, consider their skill sets rather than the industries in which they were built. You may find that a fresh pair of eyes is exactly what your business needs.

If you’d like to speak to me about your executive talent requirements or your own next step, please call me on 01865 335611 or email me at  You can also find out more about our Executive recruitment division here.

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