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Michael Moran, chief executive, 10 Eighty 10eighty.co.uk
You can overcome this perception, but it will take ingenuity and resilience on your part. Although the private sector market is tighter and there are many more candidates applying, the real problem is the background of the candidates you are competing against. We recruit typically on the basis of same skills and same sector. Why take the risk of employing someone who has never worked in that sector? There is undoubtedly some prejudice around your background, but many people have successfully made that transition (as I indeed did). So here’s my advice: there is no point using the traditional routes to market such as recruitment agencies or responding to job advertisements. You need to target organisations you would like to work for and which employ people who have worked in the public sector. Use your network and LinkedIn to actively seek out these people and target them for advice on making this transition. It is then up to you to demonstrate you have the commercial acumen to make this change. It is essential you can demonstrate in tangible outcomes the business benefits you have delivered as a result of your inventions.
Susy Roberts, career coach and managing director, Hunter Roberts hunterroberts.comFirst and foremost, you need to be sure about your reasons for moving. The private sector tends to be perceived as more commercially focused than the public and not-for-profit sectors. If you’re serious about making the transition, you must demonstrate your ability to be proactive and work at a fast pace. Revise your CV and covering letter to ensure it focuses on your business skills and commercial acumen. As well as highlighting your HR expertise, try to show an understanding of the commercial aspects of the organisations you’ve worked for and quantify the business impact of the change initiatives you’ve helped to drive. Even then, if two candidates with the same skills and experience apply for the same role, the one with the most relevant sector experience will nearly always succeed, so you may also have to consider taking a reduction in pay and responsibility to get your foot into the private sector. Alternatively, I’d strongly recommend you first work for a large public sector organisation, such as the NHS, which is now under unprecedented pressure to become more commercially focused. This will increase your change management experience and commercial credibility, making it easier to move sectors.
Barney Ely, director, Hays Human Resources hays.co.uk/hrWhen recruiting, companies often specify somebody from the same sector because it is deemed less risky in terms of cultural fit and business knowledge. But you can break through these barriers by showing you understand how the private sector works, making your experience relevant and demonstrating commercial acumen. You need to tailor your CV to each role you are applying for. It’s important to avoid public sector jargon, such as change management, to present the role you did through your skills, achievements and the value you added to the organisation, and to qualify your achievements where possible. You should also research the background of the HR directors and approach companies where they have switched sectors and therefore might be more open minded. Interim roles are also a great way of making a successful change of sector and career. Networking at industry conferences and business events is invaluable in getting to know prospective employers on a more personal basis. Building these relationships and contacts will help override any barriers you may face.