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Blog by: Jade Lough, HR Recruitment Consult at Williams Kent Ltd
10th May 2017
“I have the necessary skills, but I haven’t worked in that particular industry, can I still be considered?”
This is a question I get asked more than anything else on a daily basis. It is a topic that can divide opinions and one that can cause great frustration for job seekers; why are companies so specific when it comes to industry background and is HR really “just HR”?
Industries are different; for example, the construction industry is a last minute, ever changing, fast paced environment with a heavy ER caseload; whereas in financial services the issues that HR face are completely different. You are regularly adapting to regulation changes, compliance issues and the sensitivity to global events, which means that the pace of work varies hugely. Then we have the public sector which is perhaps the most stigmatised of all industries when trying to move jobs; budgets are tight, ER cases are extremely high, it is a heavily unionised environment, and it is sometimes regarded as slow moving. So whilst the foundation of Human Resources is the same in every industry, it is clear to see that each sector really is quite different.
I have been in recruitment for nearly 5 years and in that time I have moved sectors twice. I started in London in Education recruitment (where something I heard a lot was “I haven’t got any qualifications but I have my own children so I can definitely teach other children” which takes moving sectors to a whole ‘nother level!) then moved to Insurance recruitment then finally in to HR recruitment. Now, I’m sure my employers would have preferred me to have some sector experience, someone to “come in and hit the ground running”; however, I had shown good previous results and my recruitment experience was of far more importance to them and the result?
It was hard, the first few months of each of my roles was hard work. I had no idea what CIPD stood for, what on earth was a HRBP and don’t even get me started on OD, TUPE and ER, I thought that was a TV show?! However, when it came down to it, the core skills of recruitment were the same, but I was in a lucky position where the companies I joined had the time, and definitely the patience, to help me learn the industry and if they didn’t then it really would have been a different story. In the majority of cases I think that’s what the barrier to switching industries is. Time.
It is absolutely possible to move from one industry to another and some companies actually value the varied experience. As the saying goes “if you want to get the same results just keep on doing what you’re doing”, there are some great innovative ideas that are happening in the HR world that need to be shared and I truly believe that some companies are missing a trick by focussing on candidates solely in their sector. My advice would be to highlight the transferable skills you have on your CV and outline the value that you will be able to add to the company, read the job spec and tailor your CV! There are situations when companies cannot avoid needing industry experience; however, there are definitely opportunities out there; please contact me to find out how I may be able to help.
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