Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When it comes to recruiting, sometimes it’s easy to fall into this trap.
How? Many hiring managers, especially in a specialized industry like commercial real estate, automatically assume you need industry experience to succeed. Recruiting based on the same rigid criteria leads to the same pool of candidates every time a position opens. And with fierce competition for top talent in the CRE industry, the talent pool gets smaller all the time.
What if you found a great candidate who checked all the boxes except for the fact they didn’t know anything about the commercial real estate industry? While industry experience can be important when sifting through applications, it shouldn’t be the deal-breaker. In fact, I’d argue that hiring outsiders—top talent from other industries, non-competitors or completely different firms—is actually better for companies.
Here are the top five reasons for considering outsider candidates:
New perspectives breed innovation
Outsiders can often encourage innovation and improvements as they can provide a new point of view on outstanding problems. Or maybe they’ve experienced your service from a customer’s perspective and can relate to a potential client’s business issue or challenge. At Colliers, we’ve found that candidates from other industries often ask a lot of questions and enable us to see an issue or project in a different light. They don’t fall prey to a “that won’t work” mentality because they’re willing to try a new approach.
Wider net, bigger talent pool
Hiring from competitors doesn’t always work out. In fact, hiring top talent from a competitor can be very expensive as these recruits expect higher pay for proven industry work. However, our first priority is cultural fit. If we look beyond mere industry experience and certifications, we’ll be able to find top talent from other segments who are potentially a great fit for our culture, likely share our values and will ultimately stay with us for the long haul. Why stay in a small pool where everyone is competing for the same thing when you can dive into a deeper talent pool where you may find more people to choose from?
Business is business
Regardless of the industry, some business challenges remain the same: increasing productivity, improving employee engagement, reducing costs and growing the business. Outsiders can share how other industries tackle these issues, ultimately helping us improve our service offering for our clients.
No need to compete with non-competes
Candidates who want to move between organizations within the same industry are likely bound by a non-compete clause in their employment agreement. So if I want to hire someone from one of our competitors, this individual usually can’t work with us until the non-compete clause expires. However, if we look for outsiders—in consulting firms or financial services—we won’t run into this problem. And neither will the candidate because they would be moving to a non-competitor.
Our customers see themselves in us
Our clients represent various industries and organizations. But if they work only with people who don’t know anything about their own businesses or challenges, how can they relate? The more our workforce represents the communities and clients we serve, the more attractive we’ll be to prospects, clients and outsiders who l want to work with us.
A switch in jobs and industries used to be a red flag on a resume. Today, it demonstrates nimbleness, resilience and flexibility – all features of a great candidate. Just as the workplace has changed, so should our hiring practices. If we want our workforce—especially those who work with local, national and international business leaders—to reflect our clients and communities, we need to look outside the walls of the commercial real estate industry and find outsiders whose perspectives and experiences will help innovate and improve the industry as a whole.
There’s a great big world outside the commercial real estate industry. We just need to explore it.
Keri Fraser is the Vice President of People Services for Colliers International in North America, where she partners with leadership and management teams to build effective and efficient people solutions that drive employee engagement and meet business objectives.