I saw this in an ad that turned up in my inbox recently. The ad was for a recruitment manager for a professional services firm: "You will have had experience in a similar role in a professional services organisation." Nothing particularly unreasonable or earth-shattering about that, you'd think.
In fact, if you analyse most of the roles advertised in recruitment at the moment, or in many other fields for that matter, the bottom line is that recruiters are looking for candidates who have done pretty much the same job in a near-identical business. The only reason that the ad I quoted above caught my eye is that it came out and said as much!
Now it's hard to be critical. Recruitment can be risky, and in a candidate-rich market why shouldn't hiring managers and recruiters be looking for the safest, lowest-risk option available? In addition, from the recruiters' perspective, candidate selection isn't overly taxing, inasmuch as you are looking for experience on the CV, rather than ability in the individual.
And that's really the point here. Although it's difficult to see from our current gloomy economic perspective, markets do change, and when the labour market tightens, recruiters are going to need something much more creative to get top quality candidates to move. Why should established employees in one company move to do exactly the same job in another? When the flood of CVs that used to pour in to job ads is reduced to a trickle, how will recruiters whose role has been simply to filter ad response fare? How well will they cope when assessing candidates on more esoteric criteria than simply what's written on the CV? How competent will they be at persuading top quality, highly sought after individuals to join their companies in the face of stiff competition from other organisations?
These questions might not be on the agenda for recruiters at the moment. They should be!