Making the Move from Public Sector to Private Sector

time to changeWhen I was asked recently what I wanted to write about for my next blog at Oasis HR the idea of exploring how people can make the move from the public sector to the private sector instantly came to mind. This is a subject that really resonates with me as I think that a lot of private sector managers can be quick to judge the suitability of such candidates and don’t fully understand the commercial experience that can be gained whilst working within the public sector.

With uncertainty growing in the Public Sector and the potential of cuts looming, more and more professionals are looking to make the move over to the, hopefully more stable, world of the private sector. To assist those who are thinking about making that step but unsure how to or for anyone who has been struggling to make the move; here are my top 4 tips for increasing your chances.

  • Tailor your CV

This advice is for anyone applying for a role. Gone are the days of a ‘one size fits all’ CV and instead it is best to have a main version of your CV that can be adapted based on the content or listings in a Job Description. For someone looking to make the move out of the Public Sector this is even more essential. The key is to draw out your experience that matches to the new role or area of work and put this at the top of your duties, making sure any projects in relating areas are clearly stated.

If you don’t want to spend too much time changing your CV for every application. add in any figures or tangible evidence you can to show your achievements in relatable areas and this will instantly make your CV look more commercial. Do some research around business terminology to ensure you are describing your experience in the correct way. Also ensure you avoid using any public sector jargon!

  • Pick your target list

I was talking with a candidate recently who worked for one of our emergency services and is looking to make the move across to a private sector organisation. We discussed that she could target private sector companies that may have the most commonalities to the public sector. These could be unionised companies, businesses who work with public sector clients such as construction and infrastructure companies or even privately run public services like care homes, housing associations, private hospitals, transport etc.

Many people in the recruitment world believe that most organisations will only look at prospective employees coming from the same sector as them but this isn’t always the case at all. Do some digging and give some thought to the companies that will be most open to your background and skillset to pull together your target list of places to work at. Your recruitment agency should be able to advise you on this too. Don’t rule out the dream job – it’s all about understanding the company’s needs and communicating your skillset to meet this as discussed above.

  • Be proactive and approach

Don’t just sit back and expect the phone to ring about every application you make for a role. Relying on a piece of paper to cover everything that you have done and can offer is like pulling the lever on a fruit machine and hoping for “jackpot”… It can happen but you are leaving a lot down to chance..

If you have followed my step 2 then you should already have your target list of companies which is a great starting point. Look at which of these companies are recruiting by searching the careers page and if you see a role you are interested in then pick up the phone and ask to speak to someone in the recruitment team about it. This will not only show them that you are assertive, confident and proactive but gives you a chance to talk through why you feel you are suitable for the position. For those who would rather not call directly then find the recruiter on Linkedin and connect with them/message on there initially.

The same approach should be adopted for any roles you see with Recruitment Agencies. I can’t count the amount of times I might have scanned someone’s CV and thought about discounting them for a particular opportunity based on the content. Then they call me and we delve deeper into their background making me realise that there is so much more than was shown on paper.

  • Be prepared for the interview

Once again this is another piece of advice I would give to anyone who is actively job seeking but for those doing so in the private sector for the first time this is going to be super important. The standard style of interviewing in these businesses will be competancy based interviewing (for further advice on what these are, check out our blog – ).

The key thing is that you have studied the job description in detail, researched the company and most importantly you have gone through all of the things within your experience that relate to the position – have tangible examples of these along with any commercial results. You need to show the interviewer through your physical presentation and the way you articulate your answers that you are aware of the differences and similarities between sectors whilst demonstrating your suitability to make the switch. Also if you can get some examples, grab a friend or family member to role play so you get a feel of what it is like to answer these type of questions.

It may seem like this could take a lot of time and investment on your part but my argument to that would be that the best things usually do and imagine the satisfaction you will have when you land that dream role in the private sector. There are definitely opportunities out there to make this happen and one of my best friends is a testament to this as she recently moved from the public sector into an amazing job heading up a department of an Engineering firm and has never looked back.

So to conclude and simplify in 4 words –  tailor, target, approach and prepare. And as always if anyone wants any further advice or support then reach out to me directly on Linkedin or any of the Consultants here at Oasis HR. Good luck!!!!


Written by ,

Claire joined Oasis in the spring of 2014 as a Senior Consultant bringing to the team her 10 years of recruitment and training experience from both Agency and In-house roles. She has successfully recruited into the Consultancy space across the Technology, Property and Construction sectors. Her aim at Oasis HR is to position herself as the ‘go to person’ for HR roles for consultancy businesses and has already made her name with an impressive client base. When Claire isn’t found trying to take over the recruitment world, she can be found at rock gigs, sport events or enjoying culture in London and her hometown of Liverpool.

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