And why many managers keep doing it!

It’s always tempting to want to hire someone who has 100% of the skills and experience you are looking for. It’s even better if they already know your industry, have worked for a competitor and have the inside knowledge of industry language and terminology.

We are all guilty of doing this, or at least trying.

However, we certainly notice a few fundamental problems with this approach. Below is an outline of the issues associated with the process of hiring ‘like for like’.

Please note: This article has not been written with the expectation that managers will suddenly change tack and think differently. It is, however, our intention that the information will arm you with interest in the concept to consider a broader approach to recruitment, giving you the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Let firstly look at the advantages of hiring a ‘like-for-like’ candidate:

  1. They already know how to perform the role. They require little to no training and will be immediately productive for your business.
  2. They already work in my industry, so already have an industry network, connections and understanding. There is no training required, can immediately be productive, and represent a no-surprises approach.
  3. Your business may benefit from the industry knowledge that they bring from their previous experience.
  4. The hiring decision is de-risked by the candidate already having performed a very similar job.

Now consider the disadvantages of hiring a ‘like-for-like’ candidate. These may outweigh the advantages:

  1. Attracting someone to a ‘Like-for-Like role. Their reason and motivation for swapping one employee for another in the same role must be closely considered.
  2. The question must be asked over the candidate’s career management and ambition? Do they genuinely believe, and do you as an employer expect, that they will be challenged and happy in a similar role for the next few years?
  3. Fishing from a small pond in the Australian job market can be restrictive unless of course, you are working in an industry with numerous competitors. With a blinkered view to employing a ‘like-for-like’ candidate, you will often be left with a lack of choice. Particularly if you are looking for someone with fresh ideas, energy to think about their role differently, bringing creativity and innovation to the role.
  4. By not looking at candidates from adjacent industries and job functions you will miss more and potentially stronger candidates.

Not-Successful-Here Syndrome

The ‘not-successful-here’ syndrome is alive and well and the most powerful recruitment can be achieved by a manager taking a broader view of talent, industries and potential.

Unquestionably the approach of hiring from outside of your immediate industry may carry some risk and extra resources initially due to the more involved initial induction and training component. However, beyond this initial stage, the benefits of taking a broader approach will become obvious when your organisation takes on a new employee with the capabilities, attitude and aptitude to excel within your business.

If you are open to taking on this fresh approach to recruitment, you will need to:

  • Consider the main skills you require
  • Consider other industries that are relevant/parallel to yours
  • Tap into other managers and your professional network for advice
  • Use formal assessment tools to check potential


This article is part of our regular Insights series. Click Subscribe to receive our Insights Newsletter direct to your inbox.