Improving my interview prospects

by 18 Mar 2008

Q. I have spent the past 10 years progressing to HR manager level within financial services, while I have enjoyed my time and have developed excellent skills, I want to broaden my commercial experience within another industry. I am starting to get frustrated and concerned as it appears that I am not even being considered for roles that I know I am qualified for. Is there something else I can be doing to at least get to interview stage?

A. I understand that searching for a new role and changing industry at the same time can seem like a daunting and, at times, frustrating process.

It is important that before embarking on your job search you have a clear goal and strategy in place. You need to know the type of role you ideally want and then isolate the preferred industries you would like to work in.

Once you can articulate the direction in which you want to move, you will be in a position to conduct your own market research to ensure that your skill set is transferable to the roles and industries identified. It is also important to acknowledge any potential skill or knowledge gaps that may need to be addressed before moving forward with your search.

Once you have researched and established which industries are the most viable, the next step is to set aside time to review your résumé. It is important to highlight details on your résumé which would be attractive to hiring managers or recruiters in that particular industry. For example, it may be the safety certificate that you’ve completed if the desired role is in manufacturing or your master’s degree if you want to move into the education sector.

You need to tailor your résumé to address the specific requirements of each role you apply for and ensure that your transferable skills stand out. This also allows you the opportunity to draw parallels between the work experience you have and the actual requirements of the position. If you have worked as a generalist in banking and want to move into the retail sector, draw comparisons between your experiences dealing with issues in frontline retail banking with those challenges faced in a multi-site retail environment.

Another important part of the research process is to seek out expertise specific to the industries you want to work in. There is a wealth of information online and you can search the sites of specialised industry bodies as well as the niche job boards. Speaking with recruitment agencies that specialise in the industries you want to work in can also be beneficial. They can provide advice on the current market and how best to tailor your résumé. Some agencies also offer online advice and self assessment questionnaires for candidates entering a new market.

In your research, you probably would have identified the organisations that appeal to you most within the industry you want to move to. Most organisations have career sections on their websites which can be an invaluable source of information about the industry, the company, their corporate values and the employee benefits. Some also have the facility to enable you to register your interest and set up job alerts that will be sent directly to your email address informing you of vacancies that come up.

After following these steps, you should now be well-read in the industry you wish to work in and be undertaking relevant study or upgrading your skill set. You should be registered with your ideal organisations and receiving frequent job alerts. With your tailored résumé that addresses the required selection criteria and industry sector, you may have made contact with specialist recruitment consultants in the appropriate industries and are well on you way to securing an interview.

Even at the interview stage, your market research will pay dividends. You will be able to converse with the employer in the language of their industry and be able to articulate your transferable skills and their relevance to the role.

In conclusion, seeking a new job in a new industry can be challenging but with some market research and following a few simple steps, you should be able to land that dream role in the industry of your choice!

By Kelly Segat, manager – Michael Page Human Resources, Brisbane