In the current environment, there are over 200,000 fewer jobs in the financial services sector than there were one year ago. Therefore, many of you may be thinking of broadening your job search so that it’s not restricted to the financial markets.
If so, it is advisable to bear the following points in mind.
1. Research before you rush in
Carefully research what your target companies and target sector value – what skills do they need and value? Do you have them? This is critical research.
2. Clarify your aspirations
Consider in which capacity you want to work: consulting, interim, contract, part-time employed, full time, etc.
Be prepared to find examples in your career-to-date which support this. For example, if you want to contract or consult and have either been involved with or led change projects or IT projects, build these out in your resume. This helps the reader, possibly at a subliminal level, understand that you can work within and apply project-based disciplines and principles.
3. Demystify your resume
Don’t just use a financial services-styled resume and hope that a recruiter or potential employer reads between the lines and will calculate your transferable skills – typically, they won’t.
You need to understand that some of your competition for the role you seek will have direct and easily understood relevant experience in the sector you are now seeking to move into. You need to work hard to get into the mix – this means doing the work for the reader.
Understand and use the language and titles of your target firm or sector, not what you’ve got used to in financial services. For example, references to SVP might be better explained by calling yourself a senior manager.
4. Think about transferable skills and the functions you fulfilled
When you’re assembling a resume, focus on what you did whilst working in financial services rather than your title or the job description. It’s about transferable skills. For example, if you worked in settlements, doing currency recs, can you say that you will be good at stock auditing? If you were a dealer, can you focus the reader on your sales and influencing skills?
In both examples, can you evidence an ability to work successfully under pressure? And so on.
You may want to create a functionally-based resume, rather than a more traditional reverse-chronological design. A functional resume will focus on four or five headings that you know (from your research) that your target firm or target sector values highly. Having determined these headings, assemble evidence that you have successful experience under each one. The date the task was completed is less important than the fact that you did it – and could deliver something similar again.
Sometimes a hybrid design can be effective: build a functional resume and then at the end, simply list your previous employers’ names and dates. Be aware, however, that this may deter some employers who are unfamiliar with this format and if your previous employers are all in financial services, this could possibly surface concerns that you are too "financial services" in nature.
Consider if there is anything that you want to leave out of your new resume – anything "too financial services." Remember, the resume is a marketing document. You are using it to target the jobs you want next. It’s not there to tell your career history in the sector you are leaving.
6. Relevant interests
Think carefully about any pro-bono work and outside work activities that might be relevant to roles you’re targeting outside financial services. For example, if you want to apply for a teaching conversion course, don’t just think of the internal training work you’ve been involved with and share that: consider your coaching of the under 14 netball team!
7. Be professionally persistent
Doing more of the same in a similar organization tends to be a more rapid transition, moving sectors and/or disciplines will in all likelihood take longer to achieve.
Be prepared for this, and while actively managing your time through a campaign or project approach to getting your next role, be aware for most people it’s a bit of an emotional and moral roller coaster. Be focused, benchmark your activities, monitor the effectiveness of different approaches and be prepared to modify your activities and marketing documentation – play to those aspects of your campaign which are working best for you.
Julian Rye Head works in Consulting Services at Lee Hecht Harrison | DBM, a leading talent development provider.