Simon Burton is Managing Director of CB Resourcing, the leading knowledge & information management recruiter in the UK. Simon is a Past President of SLA Europe, current Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) as well as Adviser to Zapnito, a leading software platform used by many top business and science publishers.
I’m frequently asked for advice for those information professionals who have decided to apply their information skills within another industry.
Firstly, there are no silver bullets, but there are some things you can do to support your chances.
- Make it clear on your application that you are committed to and interested in moving into the sector you’re applying to. If everything on your resume is aligned to your experience in your current industry, it’s hard for employers to understand your motivation. You must make it clear somewhere that you are looking to change into the industry you’ve applied to. Hiring managers are bombarded with resumes and you need to make sure it’s obvious that you are committed to a career change and haven’t applied by mistake or without giving it serious thought.
- Get familiar with the key trends going on in the sector you want to move into. Each sector of the information industry has publications, associations and informal groups you can leverage. This will shine through when you interview and help you understand what is being described within job specifications.
- Build your professional network within your chosen sector. Of the many examples of librarians changing sectors, we’ve seen over the years, those who invest their time in building strong professional networks find the process much easier. LinkedIn is a great place to start
- It’s worth considering some volunteering with relevant associations and special interest groups. It will not only build you a network of mentors for your new sector but looks excellent on your resume. This also is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to a new sector and demonstrates the kind of proactive attitude employers are looking for.
- Do some research on the norms of your chosen sector for resumes. There are slight nuances for each sector as well as geography.
- Make sure your social media presence is up to date and reflects the skills you want to be known for.
- Research the organizations you are interviewing with in depth. It’s very important to have a clear understanding of what they do and the issues they might be facing before attending an interview.
- Talk to a few recruitment agencies. They can help you understand what you need to know about the sector you’re applying to. It’s also very helpful for you to get interview practice in the sector you’re applying to and become familiar with talking about your skills within that context.
- Moving sector requires patience, the ability to not take rejection personally as well as some well-timed luck. Keep going and keep giving yourself as many chances as is realistic for your situation.