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There are certain catchphrases we hear on a daily basis in recruitment; work hard play hard, champagne and razorblades, fake it till you make it. A time-honored line that usually gets used in the process of feedback is “square peg round hole” which when you break it down refers to a candidate or client just not being the right ‘fit’ for the relevant party. When it’s a case of culture fit round pegs and round holes are a home run! However, in a skill short market should we place so much emphasis on industry experience?
Like any recruiter working in a candidate short/client rich market, you know that if you meet a good candidate that has 3+ years in specific sector chances are you can get him or her a gauntlet of interviews that morning. I often point out the synergy between our beloved industry and the professional sports arena with its high stakes and winner takes all methodology but if you humor me, for the umpteenth time, there is a recruitment lesson on the horizon.

There is a number of athletes that have found success in different shades of sports; To kick off with a colloquial example the NZ/Samoan phenom Sonny Bill Williams has transcended the sports of rugby union, league and boxing winning the heavyweight title back in 2013 against Frans Botha. Herschel Walker was an American football player, bobsledder, sprinter and mixed martial artist, not all at the same time. The most notable is the less known Jim Thorpe who has been given the illustrious title of Worlds Greatest Athlete. Thorpe won gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played professional American football, professional basketball, and professional baseball. He was unjustly stripped of his medals due to strict amateurism rules when it was discovered that in 1910, to make a bit of extra cash, he was paid $2 per game for Rocky Mount in North Carolina.
Even the business arena has seen the effect of attitude versus industry experience. Mathieu Flamini the ex-Arsenal, AC Milan and Marseille player co-owns GF Biochemicals who is now the dominant player in an industry thought to be worth £20billion. If you possess the dedication, determination and work ethic that is ingrained in the DNA of our favorite sports stars then it would stand to reason that those skills are transferable. I’ll admit going from a sport like union to league isn’t the most drastic of transformations but I would argue that neither is changing from one technical desk to another.

Flamini explaining to Ozil ho he is worth more than Messi and Ronaldo

Flamini explaining to Ozil how he is worth more than Messi and Ronaldo

I have witnessed construction consultants go through a metamorphosis and out of the chrysalis emerged a fully formed IT recruiter. Legal consultants that once seeing the monetary light switched over to the digital sector. Recently working with one of Auckland’s premier executive search agencies has really highlighted that a recruiters strengths do not lie in their little black book or their industry knowledge. It is in their relationship building and management skills, their diligent approach to matching the clients’ requirements to the candidates’ skills. Talking to a new to recruitment candidate this week I reassured him by telling him what I was told in my early days; you don’t need to be an expert in *insert industry, you need to be an expert in recruitment and being able to identify both soft and hard skills that a candidate posses.
Ideally, I would come into work and be greeted by an inbox packed with experienced IT, construction accountancy, finance recruiters but recruiting in a country with a population with less than half that of London it’s just not fathomable. Instead, I would urge consultants to think a little outside the box, back themselves and to agency owners, directors, managers I would say that although someone is not a perfect fit, experience-wise, to look at the bigger picture. Instead of trying to find perfectly round pegs to fit into our precise round holes we should think of more innovative means of completing our ultimate goals? You’d be surprised how quick a Rubik’s cube is completed when you change the color of the squares 😊

Rubik's cube

Rubik’s cube