Why Does Domain Knowledge Matter to Techies?

Domain knowledge is increasingly sought after by employers looking to precision-match candidates to jobs.

Let us walk you through:

  • What this concept means
  • What it means to you
  • How to build domain knowledge

What is Domain Knowledge?

To put it very simply, domain knowledge (also known as vertical knowledge) is a broad-based knowledge or understanding of a particular industry or solution.

Let u break that down a bit further, starting with the industry part.

Having domain knowledge of, say, the banking industry would mean that you know how that industry really works. From front to back office, you would know how client open accounts, how traders manage funds and so on.

What about solutions, then? Well, staying with banking, you would know about banking software – its specific strengths or limitations. And you would know how this software could best be deployed to address the needs of the bank.

In other words, having domain knowledge means that you have a strong understanding of how an industry operates, its functions and the solutions it uses to increase productivity.

How does this relate to you?

Well, as a technologist you are essentially a problem solver, right?

Having domain knowledge means that you are better equipped to solve problems by finding genuinely useful solutions: solutions that relate to real-life industries, businesses, and business challenges.

The days when it was enough to have a generic skill set – be it techie or project management skills, or a combination of the two – those days are giving way to new demands from savvy employers who are looking for recruits to hit the deck running in terms of industry-specific issues.

If you want to work in healthcare, education, or insurance … you are more likely to land a job if you actually know something about those industries.

Look at it from an employer’s perspective.

Hiring someone with generic skills and knowledge might work out fine. But a candidate who is a domain expert is not only more likely to get the work done faster, but may also come up with ideas, suggestions, innovations and creativity to add additional value to the business.

Building Domain Knowledge

Domains like financial services, healthcare or transportation are vast. They are crammed with complex information that cannot be mastered in one day.

Narrow it down.

A good approach might be to filter the domain or industry that interests you down into specific areas, and tackle these gradually.  So if you are interested in healthcare, ask yourself which areas you would most like to understand – is it healthcare equipment, services, or is it pharmaceuticals and life sciences? And why?

Ask questions.

Part of mastering the areas that interest you is figuring out which questions to ask… and where to go for the right answers.

If you want to know about the specifics of the automotive industry, take the time and make the effort to find the expert whose experience can shed light on the things you need to know. And think about what kinds of questions you should be asking. Keeping your questions open-ended is a good practice. “How” oftentimes elicits more information than “What”.

Of course, you will want to document the answers you get. So figuring out a system to record information (ideally not just in your head) is a really good idea. Try to make sure you organize material so that you can access it easily and cross-reference where necessary as this is your knowledge base.

Connect with others.

Whether you join an online knowledge community, attend industry events, or even sign up to take a course, connecting with experts in your domain is a way of increasing your expertise and deepening your understanding exponentially.

You might also want to consider finding a mentor within your organization or team. Being mentored by an expert with years of domain expertise can not only help you beef up your knowledge, but also expose you to invaluable career advice.


If you are serious about standing out from the crowd, becoming an expert in your industry is a must.