Hiring managers in the marketing space often limit their recruitment pool to marketing candidates who have specific sector experience in industries like financial services, telecommunications, professional services, retail and FMCG industries. But at what cost?

It’s true that hiring marketing talent with experience in your sector means they’re likely to hit the ground running when they start a new role.

But by persistently choosing candidates with sector experience only, employers could be losing opportunities to develop and evolve their marketing teams and strategies in positive new ways. Here are some of the pros and cons of hiring within your industry, and why you should also look beyond it:

What are the benefits of hiring within your sector? 

Skilled marketing candidates with sector-specific experience can:

  • Add immediate value and deliver ROI on their marketing activities early in the new job
  • Understand the client and customer groups they’re working with
  • Have a solid grasp of the competition and challenges in the industry
  • Give employers confidence that they can replicate success if they’ve already delivered impressive results in that sector

What are the problems with playing it safe? 

By only recruiting candidates with certain sector experience, organisations could be:

  • Stifling their own creative pool and restricting an influx of new, transferable skills in the team
  • Losing out on highly motivated, experienced and valuable talent through a fear of the “outsider”
  • Losing valuable opportunities for innovation and new ideas from cross-sector insights and experience
  • Risking stagnation in their marketing strategies
  • Missing out on expertise in new technologies and platforms as marketing requirements expand and develop

Marketing candidates who feel frustrated at their inability to shift into new roles and diversify their experience may leave the marketing space altogether, draining the marketing talent pool of potential and experience.

Why look outside the industry? 

Depending on your sector, the gene pool for marketing professionals who have sector experience plus all the right technical skills and cultural fit – and are open to new opportunities – may be very small. But by looking for fast learners with the right skills and fit for your team who can be trained up in the details of your industry, you broaden the talent pool exponentially.

Candidates with cross-sector experience can often inject a much-needed boost of creativity and offer a new way of thinking about marketing strategies.

They may also be more malleable and flexible in their approach, open to being trained and shaped by employers to fit the needs of the business, rather than arriving set in their ways.

Hire for transferable skills rather than experience

In challenging or uncertain economic climates, businesses need to innovate, grow and adapt to survive – rather than simply sticking to what they know – but in these times, hiring managers are substantially more risk averse and extremely reluctant to hire the wrong person.

By adopting a more open-minded, skills-based approach to hiring, companies can harness the skills of talented marketing professionals and encourage true development. CMOs may find that an industry outsider with a combination of good technical knowledge and commercial know-how and strong soft skills such as driving innovation, managing change, communication and thinking laterally may be exactly what the organisation needs.

If you’re looking for fresh talent in your marketing team, contact us today to speak to one of our specialist consultants.


Risk averse marketing managers tend to stick within sector experience when looking for their next hire. However, there is much to be gained from looking outside, including:

  • Innovative new approaches and creative problem solving
  • Highly qualified candidates
  • Expertise in new technologies
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