“You’ve had a great career Simon. You have a deep marketing background and have some impressive achievements on your CV. Having said this, we won’t be progressing with your application. You have only worked in FMCG, we need not-for-profit marketing experience. The two sectors are like chalk and cheese.”
Hiring managers and recruiters say this far too often. However, it doesn’t matter what the sectors are, it doesn’t matter what the pre-conceived ideas of others are, the happy reality is that people change sectors far more often than you think.
What are the two biggest obstacles to changing sectors? Fear and ignorance.
Success depends on your attitude. Think creatively and do your research!
Your language is crucial. You have to understand your target sector and explain your experience in a context that they understand. It is no good talking about FMCG if you are in a not-for-profit interview. Prove to your potential company that you would fit in by talking their language. Give examples of how what you have done would be equally as effective in your new sector. This will reduce suspicion and show them that you have thought the move through.
Your CV should be tailored. Scour the web for examples of people in your role in your new sector, or even better, people who have made the same move. LinkedIn profiles are a great place to start. What experiences do they highlight? What are the specifics of your function in your new sector? Be aware of the differences and make your new CV look as much like a “not-for-profit” CV as possible. A good recruiter will always be happy to give you some advice in this area. They see a lot of CVs and are naturally interested in assisting you secure that next role.
Manage the dialogue. Convincing people that you can work in a new sector is about reducing any uncertainty and creating confidence in your candidature. Have the courage of your convictions, back up that courage with hard evidence and try your best to lead the dialogue. Rather than them initially saying “well, you haven’t done this, this or this” you should be saying “listen, I have done this, this and this, which would all translate directly into my new role.” The moment you lose control of the dialogue, you lose.
Your attitude will get you the job. In any interview, it is crucial to focus on the difference that you will make to your new employer. In the case of someone changing sectors, it is even more important. Put yourself in the place of the interviewer before you go in, ask yourself all the difficult questions and ensure that you have a great answer for all of them. Realism is obviously important, yes it will be hard, but if you don’t have an inner confidence behind your realism, then you won’t be convincing anyone.
Leaders never stop being leaders. Marketing gurus can weave their magic in most places. Selling ice to Eskimos comes in handy in any business.
Yes, people move more readily from certain industries to others. However, it is dangerous to look at others. If it is your dream, and if you can come up with some solid business arguments…. well, go for it!
Oh, and by the way, if you get stuck, get in touch with us. We’ll gladly help.
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