As a specialist in marketing recruitment, one of the biggest challenges and frustrations that both clients and candidates share, is the perception that industry experience in essential. This is something that I have always questioned, as when speaking with marketing professionals from different industries, the responsibilities, strategies and job content were very similar.
I decided to do some research and speak with a number of marketing managers, many who have successfully changed industries, to see what their views were and if they had any advice for people who were keen to try something new. In my next 3 posts I will explore what I found and share the advice of the marketing professionals that I spoke with.
When moving roles within any industry, your CV is often the first thing a company will see. I asked 4 managers, what it was that they looked for on a CV when hiring and the answers were intriguing.
Matt Lenton, Marketing Manager at CitNow, explained the first things he looks for on a CV is grammar, spelling and presentation. He then focuses on the general marketing exposure the individual has had, followed by longevity of service. Transferable skills are something Matt believes are key, which is a view shared by Gordon Rimmer, Head of Solutions Marketing at PC-1.
Gordon went on to discuss that he felt it was the full skill set that was most important when looking at a CV and that often it is down to the company taking a leap of faith that the individual would adapt to a new industry. Rob Attryde, Marketing Manager of Kyocera Document solutions also supports this, as he has experienced it first-hand. Rob has worked agency side, in a charity, in pharmaceutical and is now working in technology. He believes the reason he has been able to move industries relatively pain free is that he has always demonstrated his in-depth marketing expertise and the parallels between his background and the role he wants to move in to.
Comments from both Gordon, Matt and Rob support the view that it is definitely more the individuals skills and marketing experience that are more highly valued, rather than specific industry experience. Craig Haward, Talent Acquisition Consultant at McGraw Hill Education, also agrees. He stated “generally skills are very transferable across industries and it is important that candidates draw upon similarities between the two industries in order to transition easily”.
All managers agreed that, of course, there are occasions where industry experience might be absolutely essential, for example in technical IT roles or for a very short term contract, where time to adapt is not possible, but generally it’s down to the person and the transferable skills that they can bring to the table.
If you are trying to change industries see below some hints and tips for really highlighting your transferable skills in your CV and in interview;
- Know the industry! Make sure you know all the latest news and insight, basically as much information as you possibly can. Knowledge is power and any concerns a company might have about your lack of industry experience will vanish if you can demonstrate you know the industry better than they do.
- Draw on parallels in your experience and that required for the role you are going for. Make sure these parallels are clear on your CV, or you will never get to interview stage.
- As well as focusing on transferable skills, think about the new insight you could bring to the position. Although the person interviewing may be focused on industry experience, they won’t say no to someone who would clearly breathe fresh life into their team and revolutionise their marketing activities!