Charlie Sheen. Yes, that Charlie Sheen. Probably not the name you would have expected at the beginning of a post here. Anyway, back in 1989, he starred in a movie in which he was nicknamed “Wild Thing” and had an affair with one of his team mates wife. Those of you that are younger than myself will probably just realize that some things never change and some actors stay true to their roles – in movies and real life. However, most others of you will instantly say “Aaah, ‘Major League’ – now that’s a classic”.
It is. The movie about a team of nobodies that takes the MLB by storm is one of the best known sports comedies ever. The plot is that the owner of the Cleveland Indians recruits a bunch of losers in order to be unsuccessful and attract such a low attendance that the league will allow to move the franchise to Miami. It doesn’t work out. This collection of, well, special players gets themselves together and performs great as a team. Cinderella goes sports.
When I thought about that recruiting process (a large portion of the movie is dedicated to showing how the players were brought in), I wondered what the job posting for a pro baseball player would be like. How would it be advertized in a news paper?
It isn’t, and those players starting the new MLB season this week were not brought in because of their resume, but because of e.g. batting average or the impression their coach got from them during spring training. That’s very performance oriented: If a younger player performs better than an older one, he will play and vice versa.
Now if I look at job posting for other jobs (not those in baseball), one point never misses: “x years of industry experience required”.
You wouldn’t find this in a fictional MLB team’s advert, so why is it in other postings? What value does “industry experience” bring?
I think companies feel that if someone has proven to be able to do a job in another company, she will be able to do the same job in their company as well. That’s correct, as long as your aim is to be average. If your aim is higher, you don’t need people that do the same job as good as they did it somewhere else in a comparable environment. You need people that do a better job than those people at your competitors.
Industry experience is a fallacy, it is completely overrated.
If your company wants to be special, you may also bring in people without industry experience. People that are able to make the company take the next step. That are flexible instead of just experienced in running standard procedures.
When reading CV’s, don’t look for industry experience, look for the flexibility to adapt, the ability and will to create, creativity, competitiveness and result orientation.
The right candidates may come from your industry, from another industry, even from another planet, as industry experience does not correlate with the above mentioned factors. Why limit yourself so narrowly without any reason? You industry is small. The rest of the world isn’t.
Instead of “industry experience”, why not ask for “experience in being different” in your next job posting? In the end, being superior won’t come from doing things the way others do.
In the “Major League” movie, the players bring in their particular strengths and ways of being different and win the title. With a team composed of a pitcher who was just released from prison and a power hitter who performs voodoo rituals prior to the game, coached by a tire salesman. Not quite what one would call baseball industry experience. Okay, life isn’t quite like a movie.