When I started in the recruitment industry more than 20 years ago, there were a lot of rules. Mining firms only wanted to hire finance employees with mining experience, and telecom with telecom experience… you get the idea. Square peg, square hole.
While there are many hiring managers that still come to us asking for specific industry experience, there’s been a definite shift over the past few years.
First, companies and hiring managers have a deeper appreciation for the power of diversity. Time and time again, it’s been proven that when you hire people with diversity – of background, skills, experience, gender, age, race, education, etc., you gain innovation, better collaboration, smarter teams, better performance.
Second, good finance leaders have learned to seek out team members who have a growth mindset. Someone with a growth mindset views intelligence, abilities, and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort. Growth mindsets are essential to entrepreneurship and leaders of fast-growing businesses are more than willing to overlook industry experience for the type of team members that know how to iterate and learn.
Instead of “We need someone from our industry,” we’re now hearing, “We need people with the ability to solve these problems.”
Finally, over the last five years, we have experienced a talent shortage unlike any seen in the past century. The CBC shared figures from Statistics Canada this week showing 372,000 job vacancies in Ontario during the third quarter of 2022. That’s nearly double the average number of vacancies (195,000) reported during the three years leading up to 2020. Moreover, according to a recent 2023 BDO CFO Outlook Survey, 20% of CFOs still say talent shortages pose a significant threat to their businesses.
It means that if there was ever a time to make a shift, to try something new, to take a leap of faith… Now is that time.
Finance leaders are now realizing that individuals with core accounting and finance backgrounds have transferable skills that can be applied to just about any industry.
Instead of “We need someone from our industry,” we’re now hearing, “We need people with the ability to solve these problems.” Companies are looking for individuals who possess a technical foundation in finance or accounting, critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and who can figure out how to scale their own abilities within the company.
Contrary to the message being broadcast, the job market is actually experiencing significant demand for new hires – especially finance and accounting professionals – while the number of candidates actively searching for jobs has decreased. This creates an imbalance in supply and demand, opening up opportunities for individuals who want to make a change.
If you’ve always wanted to try a new industry, now might be the perfect time to take the leap. Companies are more open to considering candidates with diverse backgrounds and skill sets, and the current job market provides an advantageous opportunity for those looking to change industries.
I am not sure if this is the “new normal” or a moment in time that will pass. However, I do know that this means that industry experience as a barrier may be diminishing. The time to pursue your passion and try a new industry is now. Don’t let fear hold you back; take the risk and see where it takes you. You never know, you might just discover your dream career.
Looking for career advice? Even if you’re not ready to switch industries, we’d love to help you think through your career progression. We’re here to help.