After spending a number of years recruiting in your specialist industry, the economy is bound to have shifted along with your personal interests. Every recruitment agency is talking about a lucrative, up and coming market and you have a passion for that sector. You’re considering changing your specialism.
Changing specialism is a common driving force behind a recruiter’s decision to seek a new opportunity. It can offer a fresh new perspective, career advancement and it might be a desk you’re personally passionate about. Hands down, the most sought-after market that recruiters want to recruit in today and over the past few years, is Technology.
A majority of recruitment agencies are open to hiring a recruiter who wants to change practice if they understand their motivations and spot their drive.
In this article, we explore how a recruiter can approach changing practice with the end goal of landing an offer.
Evaluate your current specialism
Your new market might sound exciting. A tech startup has just raised $4 million in funding and you want to be the recruiter that fills those new technical roles. Before jumping ship, it’s important to evaluate your current position by considering the implications of changing practice.
Walking away from your practice means walking away from a network you have spent time and effort building. We can sometimes take our position for granted, losing sight of the challenges along the way and forgetting how long it took to build client relationships.
Evaluate what’s driving you to change practice. It could be that you’re burnt out, that you don’t see much growth in your market or that you’re extremely passionate about the new sector.
If you have the drive to join a new desk and you accept the implications, you’re ready to move practice.
Research markets and choose a new specialism
Once you’ve evaluated your current practice, research your new practice to finalise which industry you’d like to specialise in.
If you have your heart set on one practice, start researching it by using online resources. A quick google search can give you a macro overview of your market. Researching live jobs, who is hiring and client contacts can give you a micro overview.
Seek advice by talking to your peers and business colleagues. There is no better place to research a market than by talking to the people who are already recruiting in it. If you’ve worked at one or two agencies, you’ll likely know a couple of recruiters who are covering your desired sector. Try to meet them in person, be open and honest with them so that you can pick their brain without being too intrusive. Make sure to buy them a coffee or a drink!
If you’re not sure which practice you want to join next, identify if you’re being pushed or pulled into a new sector. If you’re being pushed due to bad market conditions, consider covering the same function but in a different industry. For example, if you’re an Accounting & Finance recruiter specialising in Retail & FMCG, consider staying in your function but switching to another industry, such as Healthcare or E-Commerce.
Think about the short to long-term implications on moving to a particular practice. During COVID-19, a number of industries have been hit so hard, such as Travel, that it may take years to recover. Other markets such as E-Payments are thriving during the pandemic and growth is expected to continue post-COVID.
Once you’ve completed your preliminary research and chosen a new practice, you’re ready to take action. You have three options.
If your current recruitment agency is covering your chosen practice, the first option is to stay at your current company but request a desk transfer. The benefits of this option are that it’s a quicker process, you’ve already built a reputation as a consultant and it could be a comfortable transition.
If your current recruitment agency is not covering your chosen practice, the second option is to launch a new practice from scratch for your current company. This may be a more challenging route to consider with a lot of self-learning involved, but you’ll already be comfortable with the environment and the people you have around you.
Finally, the last option is to consider external opportunities and research new companies that cover your practice. The benefits of this option are the beauty of choice and that the new company may have a more established desk or Learning & Development team to help support the transition.
How to prepare for interviews
Whether you’re moving internally or externally, you’ll have to complete a number of interviews to secure the role. This is your opportunity to convey your thought process behind the move, your research and knowledge of the new market.
Be prepared to explain your thought process from start to end. It’s important that the interviewer understands your drivers, motivations and decision making process. Talk them through the implications of leaving your current desk and the opportunity that the new desk presents, coupled with your passion for the sector. This will help you convince the interviewer that it’s a well-thought out and calculated move.
Roll your sleeves up with your market research. You’ve already completed some research to determine whether your desired practice is right for you, but you need to go deeper. Find out who’s hiring by taking a look at LinkedIn jobs. Create a spreadsheet and include employer names, job titles and locations. Make a second spreadsheet to list up to 25 potential clients in this space. An easier way to approach this could be constructing a business plan for your new practice, printing it out and taking it with you to the interview.
To really impress your interviewer, debunk the jargon. Go back to the job descriptions, read through the roles and understand what clients look for in a candidate.
Identify competing recruiters and share additional market intel; this indicates, not only that you know your market inside out, but that you know your competition as well. If you’re entering into a highly competitive market such as Technology, you need to talk about how you’re going to position yourself and what value you will add to your clients over competing recruiters.
It’s also worth noting that changing practice may compromise any incrementation in your base salary. Every situation is different, but in most cases, it will take more time to become profitable and recruitment agencies have to budget accordingly.
Changing practice can be an emotional decision as you walk away from a market you have spent years building, but it might just offer the career advancement you need to take a step forward in your long-term ambitions.
To summarise, here is how you can change practice:
- Evaluate your current practice; consider the implications of walking away from it
- Research new practices and choose a practice that is right for you
- Take action and research companies that specialise in your desired practice
- Prepare accordingly for interviews