With practical experience before and during my studies, after graduation, I took up the role of a junior research engineer in an international company (halfheartedly trying to develop some research ideas for a PhD aside of quite an intense job back then). Three years later, I changed occupation and spent about two years as a freelancer. After these five years, I returned to uni to focus on research and did my PhD, with the firm goal to pursue an academic career at a university. Now, after having been in the academic circus for more than a decade with a quite normal research and teaching track record, in job applications, I'm frequently encountering the argument that the candidate has published little in comparison with their peers. I to myself, well sure, I'm missing five full years of publishing, and some of you may know, you can do a hell of a lot in five years. My question complements questions about applying for studies, PhD programmes, and related decisions and is not only about the transition into an academic career.
So, how relevant is industrial experience (in my case, in the STEM/CS field) for pursuing an academic career successfully in the long-term? How likely is this time in industry getting in the way of an academic endeavor? My question should also be seen in the light of the unwritten but observable rule that only people with streamlined CVs are successful.