According to analysis from Pew Research, 53% of employed U.S. adults who quit their jobs in 2021 switched to a new occupation or field of work. At Xpedition, we’ve found that because these career changers aren’t caught up on the way things have always been done, they often bring new passion, enthusiasm, and creativity to their roles. These out-of-the-box approaches and ideas have helped us solve problems, develop more efficient workstreams, and strengthen our business. If your company has only hired people from your own industry, you may be missing out on many qualified candidates who can help your business grow and scale. Here are five ways that hiring outside of your industry can help you create a more creative, collaborative, and innovative company.
Career changers have fresh enthusiasm. After serving in the Navy, Bryan Vermeer worked his way up in the retail pharmacy industry until he became a store manager at a large national brand. “Being a store manager meant you were the store owner,” Bryan says. “You didn’t want to say ‘that’s just the way it is’ because you always wanted to find new ways of maximizing profits and finding new opportunities for the business to succeed.” Bryan brought that same entrepreneurial mindset into his role as a Digital Team Lead on Xpedition’s event team. “Bringing the mindset of a business owner, no matter what level you’re at, can make a big impact on the company,” Bryan says. At Xpedition, our career changers like Bryan have brought a new level of excitement and enthusiasm that has propelled their teams (and the entire company by extension) to greater heights.
Careers changers bring new perspectives. Companies often want to hire employees with previous experience in their field, but the reality is that hiring people from different industries can have many benefits. Xpedition’s Strategy & Operations Manager, Diana Sancianco, spent five years working as a Project Manager under Quality prior to joining our team. That experience gave her a better understanding of how to maintain Xpedition’s growth trajectory and streamline internal operations. “Everyone’s unique experiences bring an added level of creative and out-of-the-box thinking which can be applied to both internal work and client work,” Diana says. “These experiences are skills that are acquired and cannot be learned in a classroom.” If your company only hires people from within your industry, they are bringing the same processes, practices, and insights as everyone else. But hiring people from other lines of work can help you identify blind spots and areas for growth, as well as new systems and ideas that will help the company grow.
Career changers provide diversity of thought. If everyone at your company looks like you and thinks like you, it can create an echo chamber where you’re never exposed to new ways of seeing the world. Hiring people from different industries has infused new ideas into our day-to-day routine, which has helped us create a more diverse and inclusive environment. This also increases the chances of combating unconscious bias in hiring and helps people feel more welcome instead of feeling like they are the “only one.” In turn, this can help not only with hiring but also with retaining employees.
“Bringing in people from other other industries and backgrounds adds value not just to the culture but to the overall business,” says Xpedition’s People Ops Manager Khanh Tran, who joined our team after working in operations at an information management and data archive company. “When a company hears you’ve been a Director of Operations for 20 years, they question why you would want to move, so it becomes a hard selling point,” she says of her own experience switching industries. “But each person has a skill set and thought process that no one else has, so being able to recognize that and grow a collaborative culture helps us build a better organization. Listening to new ideas helps us be more inclusive and better understand not just our work and colleagues, but the community and world beyond us.”
Career changers bring valuable new skills. Prior to joining Xpedition as a Social Media Strategist, KK Strasburg worked as a digital marketing manager in Nashville’s music industry. She is also a songwriter, and says songwriting has helped give her the framework for her current role. “Being a songwriter has helped me in so many ways with my career in writing social media copy and developing new ideas,” KK says. “In songwriting sessions, you have to be willing to listen, collaborate, and paraphrase in a way that will be most relatable to anyone listening. Learning to be adaptable and to understand what someone is wanting to say and writing it in a way every person can understand is an art form when utilized in the right direction.” If you’re only searching for people with past experience, you may be inadvertently bypassing candidates who have valuable skills that can be translated to your open roles. Instead of just looking for candidates who have previous experience, we’ve found it is also helpful to consider those with strong potential and passion.
Career changers create a more equitable workplace. Since not everyone has access to the same educational and networking opportunities, it can be more difficult for those from different backgrounds to get their foot in the door. To help solve this issue, Xpedition removed the college degree requirement for our job applications (with the exception of roles that require special training or certificates). Expanding our candidate pool to include people with non-traditional and non-linear career paths has helped us attract more diverse talent and find exceptional employees who don’t fit into traditional buckets.
Hiring people from different backgrounds and industries has also helped us create a more diverse, representative workforce. “A lot of times, people haven’t been given the chance to really shine,” Khanh says. “But if we can focus on giving opportunities to those who have potential and transferable skills, it gives both parties a chance to build something great.”