Recently The Works Search and Selection has noticed that an increasing number of people, particularly at the junior end of the spectrum, are keen to change the sector of PR they work in.
Because of the financial cost of recruitment, post-recession employers can be quite conservative; they want the ‘perfect’ candidate, ideally with highly relevant sector experience and contacts. People changing sectors therefore represent a risk.
Don’t lose hope though; think about the transferable skills you can offer employers. Superb core PR skills are fundamental to a successful transition, and those you’ll need to stress include:
- Writing – Read relevant press releases to get an idea of how to adapt your writing to suit a new sector; practise the style until you get it right!
- Dealing with the media – You probably won’t have many contacts in your new sector, so focus on your knowledge of how to deal with the media and make sure you know who your key future contacts are likely to be.
- Client handling – Use your experience to demonstrate your ability to liaise and advise at senior level and to build strong client relationships.
- Time management – Juggling a heavy workload and several clients is a key element of any PR role which you should already be prepared for.
- Social media – If social media is vital to your new sector, you MUST understand how it is used, be using it yourself, and have an opinion on it.
Whilst a broad range of relevant skills is helpful, it is just as important to demonstrate an active interest in your chosen sector. If possible use some of your holiday allowance to gain some work experience so that you can be sure it’s the right move for you. Make sure you’re always up to date with stories on PR Week or Gorkana, as well as following the news and journalists in the publications relevant to your new sector.
Changing sectors also carries with it financial implications. In remuneration terms, financial PR pays the highest, followed by technology, healthcare, corporate and finally consumer. If you are in one the higher paid sectors you MUST be realistic about your expected salary. Your recruitment consultant can advise you on average salaries at your level.
Apart from all of this, to be able to make a successful transition you have to be able to demonstrate passion for your chosen sector – as with any interview your future employer needs to buy in to you, and in this instance, even more so than someone with relevant experience. Think of ways you can demonstrate your interest, for instance, maybe you could start writing a blog about the news in your chosen sector? If you do, bring a copy to your interview to wow your interviewer and put you one step closer to getting that dream job!