APPLYING for an executive role in the current economic environment is more about what you have achieved than what jobs you have done. “You have to convince an employer you can do the role, so that means backing up everything with examples,” says Mike Emmott, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
“There is no point saying you sat on a committee or had responsibilities for liaison, employers want to know what you personally took responsibility for — that means what size budget you controlled, how many people worked for you and then back this up with examples of what you actually achieved. Select examples that have a beginning, middle and end so you can demonstrate what you contributed and what was the outcome — something which added value to the organisation.”
Linda Jackson, managing director of outplacement consultant Fairplace, advocates the STAR — Situation, Task, Action, Result — approach. She says: “Often candidates say, for example, that they were a project manager but they do not say if the project was successful or what they achieved. You need to demonstrate your track record in tangible terms. For example, that you achieved a 15 per cent saving.”
This could be a challenge for those leaving the public sector, who are hoping to make the move to an executive or management role within the private sector.
“You need to understand that there will sometimes be a poor perception of you because you have spent most of your career in the public sector,” adds Emmott. “You will be perceived as less dynamic and less entrepreneurial.
“However, there are quite a few professional jobs where the two sectors have a lot in common — HR, finance, IT and project management. While the jobs are not identical your skills can be transferable. But you will still find there are cultural differences.”
Derek Smart, of the Association of Executive Recruiters, agrees that those with transferrable skills will find the switch easier. He says: “There will be reasonable opportunities to transfer across if you have been in marketing, IT, business development, client account management and public relations. The best hunting ground for jobs will be in areas such as HR, accounting, legal and procurement. But there will be little chance in logistics, retail or manufacturing.”
He says the real problem will be one of perception. “If you are coming out of the public sector after, say, 20 years and are earning [pounds sterling]50,000-plus, then your chances of getting a job in the private sector are only about 30 per cent,” warns Smart, who also runs Amberley Management Recruitment.
“There will be tremendous problems for those in senior positions as the private sector already has plenty of good, but unfortunately redundant, executives. If you have ever had any dealings with the bureaucracy of the public sector, you will assume everyone who has worked there for 20 or 30 years — and has been happy working in that environment — will not have the right behavioural style to work in the private sector.
“It is sad to say, but public sector managers are generally not perceived as self-starters or dynamic. Add to this the fact that the public sector no longer wants you — and the assumption that in rounds of redundancies employers keep the best — then your chances of finding a role in the private sector diminish, particularly as you will be up against a lot of competition already.”
He advises that anyone being made redundant takes full advantage of any outplacement support.
Byline: Niki Chesworth
- Sell your drive and energy, what you have achieved and your skills
- Ensure your self-belief and determinatrion comes across at interview
- Sell non public sector expwrience on your CV.
- Don’t aplogise for public sector career, but decode some public service language
- Don’t explain role, but:
- skills and achievements
- transferrable skills – talk confidently, without public sector jargon
- Private sector keen on inside knowledge of public sector