After exploring the requirement for industry experience when changing roles within marketing in my first blog, “I’m sorry but you need industry experience”, it was apparent that most marketing managers felt that it was the core marketing skills that were most important, rather than specific industry experience.
So, now we know that changing industries is possible, it’s time to start thinking about how to make it happen!
If you have a long history of working within a specific industry, it can be difficult to make people understand your desire to move away from that, particularly recruitment agencies who are approaching you with positions in the industry you currently work in.
Esme Godwin, Head of Marketing at Thomas International, experienced these frustrations when, early on in her career, she was trying to move away from the Finance industry. She said it was extremely difficult when she received calls daily from recruiters trying to “sell her the dream” within another Finance organisation, even though she was fully decided this sector was something she wanted to move away from.
Esme’s main advice for people experiencing something similar to this is to persevere and stick to your guns. When speaking with recruiters, Esme was sure to highlight her relevant skills for roles in other industries, and was clear to emphasise that she definitely did not want to stay in Finance.
Karen Tipping, Marketing Manager of Kubota UK, also has experience of making the leap into a new industry. She joined Kubota UK, an Agricultural manufacturer, from a role as a Marketing Manager within the Technology industry, where she had spent most of her career.
Karen looked at roles within a variety of different industries and felt that preparation was key when it came to interviews. She made sure she had done in-depth research on the industry she was going to interview for, including visiting dealerships, reading trade press and even looking into the cost of marketing activities within different industries.
All of this allowed Karen to demonstrate clearly to her interviewers that she had gained an in-depth understanding of marketing in the Agricultural sector. She made a point of stressing the cross-sector value she could bring to any new organisation. Karen made clear that lack of industry experience would not be an issue, as she had, with good research, already successfully familiarised herself with the key features of her proposed new sector.
The need for preparation was also highlighted by Gunvinder Bhogal, Marketing Manager of Hanovia, a company specialising in UV technologies. Gunvinder said that, although there were clear similarities between the industries he was moving from and into, he considered it important to show that he was capable of quickly becoming proficient with the technicalities of the new sector. This, he said, helped to allay any concerns his potential employer might have had.
Gunvinder believes that learning quickly (and demonstrating quick learning) is important in any new role. He suggests that, during the first days, weeks and months, a new employee can learn a great deal from talking with new colleagues. For Gunvinder, learning quickly in a new job is an important skill—a skill that, once mastered, can be used in any movement across employment sectors.
If you feel inspired by the experiences discussed above, there are things you can do to make the transition easier. Below are some hints on helping you bag that new role in a new industry!
Hints and Tips
- Stick to your guns! Write a list of everything you want from your next role. It is easy to be tempted by a huge salary or a convenient location, but if the day-to-day role is not something you would enjoy, you will be unhappy in the long run.
- Find a recruitment partner that understands what you want. Sending your CV to just any recruiter who calls can lead to a lot of phone calls about jobs that you would never be interested in. It is important to identify agencies that specialise in industries or vacancies that you are interested in. It is important to meet with the agency staff in person—only then will they know what type of organisational culture would suit you best.
- Immerse yourself in the industries you are thinking of moving in to. Immersion in an industry will give you the understanding to be able to tailor your CV and highlight relevant skills. Showing that you have researched your new sector in interview will ease potential concerns about your lack of industry experience and should make you more confident generally with the whole process. You never know, when doing the in-depth research you might even realise that perhaps the industry you’ve been targeting isn’t actually the one for you. In-depth research prior to application could stop you making a wrong move!
- Don’t let the learning stop when you have bagged the role. Both Karen and Gunvinder agree that it is critical to learn as much as possible about your new industry in the “honeymoon” period of starting a new position. When you are new to a company, colleagues will be more open to telling you all they know, rather than a year down the line when they would expect you to be up to speed.