December 8, 2023

As a recruiter, you may be tasked with filling positions in industries with which you are unfamiliar. Even if you’re an experienced recruiter, this challenge might seem daunting. So how do you go about recruiting successfully and expanding your expertise in an unfamiliar industry?

In this article, members of the Duffy Group reveal their best tips for recruiting in unfamiliar industries. Read on for valuable insights and practical strategies for navigating the recruiting challenges of unfamiliar industries, leveraging transferable skills, building effective networks to target successful candidates, and expanding your talent pool across industries.

Sharon Grace

Have you ever been assigned a position in an industry that you are unfamiliar with and have never hired before? Fear not; here are some tips I use to get you started:

  • First and foremost, approach this new project with the mindset of a student, with open arms and curiosity. Even if you enter the classroom years later, the tools you use can transfer.
  • Your account and recruiting executives can help you get started and guide you on your journey. The head of recruiting is the one who helps lay the groundwork.
  • Give yourself the grace to be vulnerable, and welcome the saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” We have been and will continue to be in our lives and our careers. It’s okay to let your hiring executive know that you haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot in the industry. Express your interest and excitement about having this learning opportunity.
  • This is where the curiosity begins. Ask questions, ask more questions, and ask clarifying questions. Consider the big picture and the macro.
  • Do some initial basic research, starting with your company website and social media. Take a look at what they publish and publish. Read reviews, notice who wrote it, and check out their profiles.
  • Research recruiting leaders to understand their career paths. Plan a small interview with them. Ask them the following questions:
    • “How long have you been in this industry?
    • “What drew you here, and what keeps you here?”
    • “What was the learning curve like?”
    • “What advice do you have for your study style?”
  • Seek advice on industry communications and associations for research.
  • Ask about common industry abbreviations, certifications, and jargon to sound like a pro.

have fun! You got this!

Sharon Grace A senior executive search executive at Duffy Group, she helps recruiting leaders recruit great talent because of her proven track record in recruiting, identifying and evaluating talent as a strategic partner and consultant.

Christine Pozen

A recruiter on a laptop researching a company in an industry she is unfamiliar with

Image via Bigstock

Doing some research up front can help you look like an expert when hiring in an unfamiliar industry.

  • Find leading industry publications online or in print and subscribe.
    • Try to identify the top players (individuals and companies) in the industry.
    • What are the trending technologies in this industry?
    • What are the disadvantages of working in this industry?
  • Are there TED Talks, other videos or podcasts specific to the industry?
  • Like and follow these industry leaders on LinkedIn, or search for the latest articles about them in business journals.
  • What events and conferences are coming up for the industry?
    • Does it make sense to participate in these activities?
    • Consider becoming an event sponsor.
  • Join industry-specific groups (LinkedIn) in person or online. Expand your network by picking up the phone and calling some members, asking them more about their industry.
  • Other online resources that may be helpful:
Christine Pozen is a Research Recruiter at Duffy Group and a former HR Recruiter.

Georgia Musgrave

Recruiter talking to professionals/colleagues while walking outside

​Image via Bigstock

For recruiters who are new to the industry, conducting a field trip can be invaluable. It gives recruiters first-hand insight into a company’s operations, culture, and work environment.

Recently, our team conducted a site visit with a nonprofit client that provides basic needs for foster families. We explored their 50,000 square foot warehouse and saw firsthand the impact this has on families by taking a tour of their facility. We met the staff, took photos and really got to know their operations and culture. This allows us to better identify the right candidates and hire with enthusiasm because we can better describe the opportunity and circumstances!

During a site visit, recruiters can observe how employees interact with each other, learn about the company’s values, and see actual workspaces. Additionally, field trips can help build rapport between the recruiter and the company’s leadership team. This can lead to more collaborative relationships and better communication throughout the hiring process.

Georgia Musgrave is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Duffy Group. She teaches leaders the value of “passive talent” as a means of attracting the best human capital to the company.

colleen nice

Recruiter/hiring manager talking to job applicant during job interview

Image via Bigstock

Everyone has to start somewhere! When recruiters are faced with hiring for a position they are unfamiliar with or a new industry, it can initially seem daunting. But there are a few things you can do to get you up to speed quickly.

The first tip is to ask candidates questions about their industry and share their expertise. For example, asking “Where would you look if you were me?” or “What industry resources would you recommend?” or “Who do you think are the top companies in this industry?” or “As an expert in this industry, who do you follow? ” Both are great ways to gather competitive intelligence.

Also, in my experience, it’s good to have a “benchmark candidate”, someone who is considered a good fit for the role, so you can look for people with similar expertise and qualifications.

Recruiters should be knowledgeable in their field, and it’s critical to ensure you stay on top of industry trends by reading industry publications, articles, and other sources of information. Our job is to be always curious and never stop learning!

colleen nice is the practice leader of Duffy Group. She specializes in recruiting executives in the nonprofit and healthcare sectors.

Catherine Duffy

Recruiter/hiring manager viewing job application at work

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show Ted Russo It tells the story of an American college football coach hired to coach a professional soccer team in England. Ted had no previous experience as a soccer coach, but his relentless curiosity and vulnerability allowed him to succeed in his role.

As recruiters, we are naturally curious and have to figure out how to use our curiosity to explore new industries, functions, technologies, etc., while maintaining our credibility with recruiting leaders to ensure we can find the right candidates.

Let’s use technology to instantly become an expert in any field. Recently, a client asked if we could help them find an MEP engineer.

Where Do Mechatronics Engineers Work?

  • Automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, robotics, industrial automation industries
  • Research and Development in Academia

Where do mechatronics engineers live?

  • Manufacturing hubs such as Detroit, Michigan; Silicon Valley, California; and Houston, Texas
  • Other countries such as Germany, Japan, Canada

What key terms are critical to identifying a mechatronics engineer?

  • Control system engineer, robot engineer, automation engineer, etc.

Now you are one step closer to becoming an expert. You can go to the hiring manager and gain insight into the specific skills and expertise their mechatronics engineers need for a particular project or application.

Catherine Duffy Founder, CEO and President of Duffy Group. The company’s vision is to elevate recruiting research as an alternative to ad-hoc and reserved searches. Since its inception, Duffy Group has been a culture of remote workplaces and work/life harmony.

Need help recruiting talent for your organization?Check Duffy Group today.

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