How To Change Sector in Recruitment

There are a number of reasons you might look to change sector in your recruitment career.

Perhaps you’ve left your previous position and are looking at a number of new companies? Perhaps you feel as though there are emerging technologies or niches that would present a great opportunity? Maybe your boss is looking to diversify and sees you as a capable pair of hands?

Whatever the reason behind it, it’s important to do your research before taking a plunge. Make the wrong move and it could halt your career progress.

Make the right move and it could be a real shot in the arm, and move you to another echelon.

‘Changing industry’ is too vague a consideration for you to make an assessment. You should be making a case by case study of possibilities. Moving into Technology won’t represent the same challenge as Property.

Arm Wrestle


The competitiveness of your potential new specialism will have a huge bearing on your ability to not only add value, but make money. As a rule, moving into mature markets in established locations will be more difficult for newcomers.

New areas and emerging markets will take more effort in the first instance, but provide a higher potential. You’ll have to engross yourself in the area. Attend networking events. Learn the lingo. Join social groups whether online or in (dare I say) real life.

True specialists are seen as industry contacts by peers and not ‘just another Recruiter.’ If you’re joining an industry which is established, there’s a possibility you can piggyback off existing relationships and partnerships but the trade off is a lower potential of success.

It may be obvious, but the higher the competition, the lower your value to a candidate or client.

Assessing the competition should be high on your initial SWOT analysis of the move.

Skateboarding Friends


Whether you’re joining a new company, or perhaps moving into a new area at your current employer you should judge how much help is going to be available to you.

This help can be in a number of areas. Perhaps you have friends in the industry? Maybe there’s a team already set up that are looking for you to branch off into a sub-sector? 

One thing’s for sure, you’re unlikely to be billing from day one in a new sector. It takes time. To be completely established and get up and running can take up to 12 months. This means you’re likely to be judged on KPIs and activity by your employer. Even if that employer is yourself and this enterprise is in self-employment. 

If you have support, your learning curve won’t be as steep and you’ll find traction earlier. Most of your job in the early days will be Business Development, but should of course be tailored to the industry. If you’re joining a market where candidates are in short supply then this should impact on your business focus.

Cash Register

Short Term Loss, Long Term Gain

Due to the time it takes to build, a new specialism or sector may mean your billings will suffer as a result. It also may mean your career progression either suffers or takes a slightly different path.

If you’ve researched and calculated that a change of sector is worthwhile, then it’s obviously an area with great potential. Otherwise you wouldn’t be considering it. Does this mean a chance to manage a team will be more forthcoming? Does it mean you’re able to move to a new location?

After the decision has been made that this is a move you’re going to explore, have a look at both the financials and the change in career structure. 

Your existing clients and candidates trust you to give informed advice. After all, you’re the expert in this area. Bear in mind that in a new industry, you won’t have this gravitas. Respect, integrity and credibility is earned. And you’ll be battling to earn all three from day one in your new venture.

Recruitment is a business within a business, of which you’re the entrepreneur, manager, business developer and resourcer. Think of it that way and plan accordingly. 

London Blur


Are you making this change proactively or reactively? Maybe you’ve seen success elsewhere and are trying to imitate it. Or you’ve decided that Automotive Software (as an example) is going to take over the highest paid tech jobs for the next five years and you’re proactively seeking an opportunity to recruit into the market.

A lot of recruitment is about timing. 

Make sure that you’re not being reactive to a market that has already become mature and therefore mined to the point that your value as a Recruiter diminishes.

Honesty’s the Best Policy

As with any business, flowery best case scenarios rarely come to fruition.

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. It’s advisable to write a business plan for your new sector. Before that scares you into thinking it’s too much work there are countless guides online to help you. And this shouldn’t take more than a few hours. Here’s one from the Prince’s Trust.

It’s important to get someone to sanity check what you come up with. Does it make sense? Can they see the opportunity that you see? Is it clear from what you’ve written?

A great exercise for any new business plan is to ask someone to try and pick holes in it. Sit down and talk through possible threats or weaknesses in the idea. It’s a fun activity that will help you navigate around potential roadblocks before they become issues in real life.

If you’re interviewing with a new employer and show them a well written, well researched business plan regarding a new market they’ll be impressed with your commitment and desire to be a success.


Talk Talk

Finally, if possible, talk to people in the industry you’re targeting. 

Think of it as a networking exercise that could well yield new contacts and (more importantly) new ideas.

This could well be someone on your own desk. Or it could be someone you’ve never met at a networking event or on a social media platform – like LinkedIn.

If you’re genuine and honest with them and yourself, you’ll find assistance and allies which will no doubt continue for when you decide to make the big move.