Employers are looking for ‘oven ready’ candidates. People who will slot perfectly, meet the job specification completely, – a ‘round peg into a round hole’. They may say they want to try new approaches, but often the behaviour and action does not match the words. If you are an oval or square peg, you may get overlooked which can be very frustrating.
Oven readiness or ‘a tight fit’ is something risk averse employers look for when recruiting; competences, experience and values.
Nervous to increase headcount, going for a safe bet and a tight fit re skills and experience reassures them. When new thinking is needed to solve old business problems, why do they take this attitude and if you think you are a good fit for the job specification, how can you get your foot in the door and persuade them to think differently?
Here are factors affecting their mindset re whether someone meets the job description:
- Employers are more risk averse than they were and would rather delay recruitment for the right person
- It is a buyer’s market – supply outstrips demand so the employer holds the power
- Employers lack time, with less people doing more work, so from a decision fatigue perspective, it is easier to make an obvious ‘oven ready whip it out of the packet you fit in our box’ decision than go for an innovative approach
- It takes time to understand a new sector, even if there are similarities, and line managers lack time to get new recruits up to speed
- Training and development budgets are being cut, with more focus on select groups e.g. high potentials, so investing in developing a new recruit’s skills is not ideal, ‘oven ready’ is more cost effective
- The brain sorts for similarity – it is how neural pathways work, so same market experience = similarity
If changing sectors is your only option because your sector is shrinking or something you aspire to in order to develop your career, here are some tips to make you fit the job description:
8 tips to help overcome the oven ready mentality
- Attend industry/special interest networks, seminars and conferences on-line and off line to meet new contacts and understand the issues
- Show you understand your target market through the language you use
- Get warm introductions through your LinkedIn network
- Write a thought leadership article demonstrating your understanding of your target market’s issues and challenges
- Think about and share the benefits of your different experience to the target market/employer in helping them achieve their goals and address business challenges
- Define your personal brand so the value you bring is clear and compelling
- Do an internship or voluntary work to get experience of your target sector
- Help them to see the similarity between the experience you bring and their market
Is persuading a sector to embrace you when your background is different possible?
Yes. My background is FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and the communication industry and the legal profession is now my main market even though I am not a lawyer and have never worked in a law firm. The legal profession is one of the most resistant markets to outsiders there is, so it is possible.
If you are looking to re-position yourself or go for a radical career change, why not get in touch?
Read our bulletin on Decision fatigue: