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Immigrant mindset – don’t let professional purists prevent you from pursuing your passion

 

I am an immigrant.  I am a multi-dimensional immigrant. I was born in a different country to the one I reside in. I am also a digital immigrant –  this one is not defined by my place of birth but my year of birth.

It goes on: I am a marketing immigrant, I didn’t have a marketing qualification when I first worked in marketing, that came later. I am also an immigrant into recruitment, HR and technology. I’ve never been a recruitment consultant, I have never worked in HR and I don’t know how to code.

There is one common threat for all these dimensions of immigration: You’ll always find the purist that looks at you as second class citizens. The immigrant doesn’t have the official stamp of approval, hence can’t be as good and as worthy.

Not in my back yard

The biggest push-back hasn’t come from nationalists or digital natives, but from the professionals.  For example, not long ago I contacted several HRDs as I was interested in getting into Talent Acquisition and Employment Branding. Having a MSc in Marketing, having built several brands and run several talent acquisition campaigns I thought I have something to offer. I was wrong. We didn’t even get that far. Most HRDs came back to me and said: “Do you have a CIPD [Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development] qualification?” Without one, you stand no chance of getting into HR.” Then they gave me the CIPD’s website address.

It did surprise me. What about transferable skills? What about training people? What about passion and potential over pedigree? Just empty words to grab the headlines? Just click bait? Fake news?

As a multi-dimensional immigrant I understand the importance of assimilation, to get my tick in the box:  After several years of working at Head of Marketing at Jobsite, I did my CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) Postgraduate Diploma. It was great fun & very helpful: I learned a lot of the underlying theories and approaches, even though some of the syllabus was incredibly outdated. For example, we covered internet marketing in 1 hour and it wasn’t the lecturer’s strong suit. So, I will look at gaining a similar CIPD qualification (if I can afford it that is).

But: We are talking HRDs here. The so called “chief people officers”. The ones that want a seat at the boardroom table but are steeped in a traditional system. The ones that talk about engagement and culture but clearly don’t appreciate that it needs new blood and new thinking to create, build and evolve those.

Knowledge isn’t constrained by borders

I am not one for dismissing experts. Far from it, I value and admire expertise, but how about democratising knowledge and access. Expertise is something that can be learned, skill plus years of experience. What we need more of, in business and in the world, is cross border exchanges.

This behaviour by some drives a wedge into society: If we only look at skills, industry experience and qualifications, it makes it so difficult for people without the relevant background to get into jobs in the first place. If we take this approach we’ll miss out on potential gems, we will find it difficult to keep exciting talent and we will not be able to keep up with the speed of change that is currently rocking the world.

Instead of demanding human robots that all use the same playbook, let’s embrace diversity,  

Instead of hailing purity, let’s benefit from the “immigrant mindset” as described by Glenn Llopis:

What is an immigrant mindset?

After all, most of us are immigrants in some form or another and it is better to be an immigrant than living in exile.

 

Further reading: https://hbr.org/2012/08/adopt-an-immigrant-mindset-to