A great many of the candidates that I meet at FreshMinds Talent broadly classify themselves as ‘sector agnostic’. They have often come through the ranks of management or strategy consultancies and have been exposed to projects in a number of different sectors. For these candidates a move into any number of industry roles is often on the cards, but for those who have either started in industry or who have been aligned with a specific sector in their consulting days it is not always such an easy transition despite a keen desire to switch tracks. Moreover, the economic climate of the past few years has left employers with a rather more risk averse attitude when it comes to hiring someone who has not had direct experience in the sector of choice.
There is however plenty of evidence to suggest that broad sector experience is of great benefit and furthermore demonstrates one’s ability to adapt to change and perform in a variety of environments. It also seems perfectly logical that injecting experience from different sectors has the potential to provide fresh ideas and perspectives. Often, there are also very obvious synergies between sectors that may at first glance appear quite different. Take retail banking and consumer goods for example. At the end of the day both rely heavily on a solid understanding of the customer, and most of us who use retail banking services are not financial gurus or investment bankers but rather the same purchasers of bread and eggs at the local supermarket.
There will no doubt be roles for which sector expertise is essential but for those of you who are keen to plunge into sectors new, do think about the links between sectors, whether it be the customer base or the functional skills needed for growth. Finally, as the market continues to improve I would also expect to see employers becoming that little bit more apt to look at a wider pool of potential candidates. Coupled with a re-emerging battle for talent the future looks brighter for being able to explore pastures new.
Katherine de Vaal is a consultant at FreshMinds Talent