So, how do you start the process of moving job sector and navigate the obvious hurdles? How do you get past it being just wishful thinking?
Sector experience is a comfort blanket for many recruiters and hiring managers. It minimises risk, cuts out the steep learning curve, shortens induction times and often provides instant credibility. It’s seen as the safer option and the credibility that previous sector experience delivers helps set up the new staff member for success. And in a competitive market it can act as a differentiator between candidates.
As you can see there are some compelling reasons why a new employer will look for previous sector experience, however, there is often opportunity for flexibility and they will consider other candidates so all is not lost!
So if you are thinking of changing sector, what should you be doing to increase your chances of success?
1. Validate Your Perceptions
Before you go any further in your desire to change sector the first, and most important, thing to do is to validate your perception of the industry you want to move to. Make sure it is right for you, test your perceptions, find out what it is actually like to work in that environment. Do your homework first before embarking on what can be a difficult journey!
2. Develop Your Relationship with the right Recruitment Agencies
Partner with recruiters who have strong relationships with their clients and who will try to present you as a different perspective. In our experience, even where sector experience is asked for, clients sometimes are surprised by the quality and transferable skills coming out of other industries.
Talk to your recruitment agency about other industries and roles where your skills may be transferable and make sure they know your plan to change sector. Work with them, take their feedback and learn from it. Be open to suggestions.
Meet with past colleagues, make new contacts and be explicit in asking for their assistance with your search. If your past colleagues have moved sector, ask them how they have found the transition and the key challenges they faced. Use this to help you when approaching new contacts.
4. Develop a Pathway
Sometimes there isn’t an obvious link between where you are and where you want to be. Think about what expertise you are missing and what industries may provide you with a bridging link. For example if you’re in Retail and want to get into the Legal sector, you might first aim for Retail Banking, then an internal move within the bank to a different division and from there move on to Legal or Professional Services.
5. Target Viable Sectors
Accept that some industries are quite different and every sector might not be for you. Focus on those industries where you feel there is a very tangible link to where you have been previously, or where you feel you have a strong understanding of how that particular sector operates.
6. Constantly Review Your Resume
Make sure your resume reflects the skills and experience that will be most relevant to another industry. Ensure any covering letter details the industries you would like to move to and why you think your experience is transferable and useful to that industry.
7. Develop Skills
Assess what skills you may be lacking that would help a sector move. If you want to move into Professional Services but have no degree then your chances of success are limited. However, they could be greatly enhanced by gaining tertiary qualifications such as an MBA, Masters or work specific degree. If you want to move into Financial Services then a qualification that shows you have good financial understanding will stand you in good stead.