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Is industry experience important for green-tech hires?

31 Aug 2021

Storm4’s Kay Bottomley discusses hiring the right talent in green-tech and whether industry experience is necessary.

Experience is often the gold standard professionals are judged on, but could this be overlooking talent from other sectors who have the qualities and potential to be top performers?

Data continues to prove that tech has remained one of the most resilient industries to the impact of the pandemic, creating job opportunities at every experience level. Even in such a maturing market like green-tech, an increasing number of CEOs are widening their search.

Having a team made up of professionals from across the tech scene has the power to add unique value and innovative visions to any start-up.

But does this offer a competitive edge, or is it too much of a risk?

Skills versus experience

Viewing experience as a measure of success raises questions about how to better access value in a potential employee. A dive into proven skills transforms any scaling strategy from a matching exercise between job description and CV to driving the business forward by finding the right talent.

Insisting on industry experience often makes the pool impossibly small. By focusing on skills, you bring the attention back to talent alone which, for a start-up looking to scale, can be the difference between going global or failing.

The key to mitigating the risk of hiring someone without industry knowledge is to conduct assessments on their potential, capabilities and motivations. Behavioural interview questions combined with psychometric assessments can verify this.

Tech is transferable

The business acumen that different environments nurture can prove invaluable to driving change and success. With transferable skills, greater value can potentially be drawn on experience gained elsewhere.

Transferable skills in the tech space are providing relief for the skills shortage within green-tech. For example, those with management or commercial backgrounds have the required skill to oversee the development of upcoming green energy projects and cutting-edge technologies, from agritech to smart grid software.

These skills provide professionals with the tools to go beyond their job description. While engineers with JavaScript, Python or Ruby on Rails have the skillset to fulfil the job description, demonstrating agility to go to market, an active interest in green energy and a natural aptitude for understanding changing technologies related to energy and environmental systems will surpass any industry experience desired.

Greater retention

One of the main worries when hiring someone outside your industry scope is whether they will stay. Particularly for the green-tech market that is still maturing, this type of career move involves more disruption and risk compared to a traditional career path.

A focus on hiring people with the right cultural add will greatly increase your chances of finding talent who form part of your succession plans. Fostering a culture that reflects what employees value will differentiate you as an employer of choice, from internal mobility and continuous learning to delivering custom benefits to support your workers.

Hiring the right employee should never be a tick-box exercise. Even if relevant industry experience is important to you, be sure to look beyond the standard when scaling your team.

By Kay Bottomley

Kay Bottomley is the founder of green-tech recruitment company Storm4.

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