Wednesday, 21 April 2010

But have you already worked in the "widgets that go on the end of pencils" sector?

As you may have realised I am now a freelancer so I work in quite a few different industry sectors. The variety is one of the reasons I like the job. When I was an “employed” marketer I worked in lots of different sectors, television, sport, insurance, FMCG. I think this is brilliant (Ok so I am a bit biased) – but why does this not seem to be valued by employers?

Why is it, that in almost every job spec, prospective employers want someone with sector experience? Some push it to such an extreme that they seem to want someone who has done the job before and is willing to do it again with no career advancement in site e.g.. “Toy manufacturer seeks marketing manager with over 5 years marketing experience in toy manufacturing – must have management experience”.

In such tough economic times, I believe that innovation that can keep a company growing. There are always ways to grow profit and a challenging environment encourages us marketers to be inventive, either in process or product. So surely one of the ways to foster some inventive thinking is to get a good mix of expertise in the team? Mixing it up with people who have different experiences and can bring something new to the table.

While it may be tempting for stressed out employers to get new staff that can integrate quickly since they know the products and the sector, they may end up with a whole team of staff trained to think that things are done one way and only that way will work.

There is no denying that there a few cases when the network of contacts a person brings to a role has great value but it would just be nice to see some employers open their minds a bit. Imagine the value of bringing in a mobile marketer to an insurance company. Both very acquisition led businesses, but the mobile phone operators woke up to the need for retention far quicker than the insurance industry, so there is much to teach and trial. Imagine bringing FMCG techniques to the a professional services industry such as architects or solicitors? Now that would be interesting!

I would much rather teach new products and a new sector to a bright and motivated new recruit than attempt to teach a recruit with sector experience how to be bright and motivated.

So let’s hear it for a bit of diversity and fresh thinking from our employers.

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