Think less about industries, more about work | Careers on The Gateway

Think less about industries, more about work

Milkround's Abbie Baisden on why you should pick a job by role, not type of employer

As a student, you've undoubtedly considered the field you'd like to go into, but is too much emphasis given to the industry a job's in, instead of the work it involves? Focusing too hard on one sector may be limiting your opportunities, as there are plenty of roles that require the type of work you're interested in, but are in surprising kinds of business.

Don't just go for glamour

Take marketing, for example. Working in this area conjures up ideas of ad agencies in funky velvet-lined offices in Soho which, to be fair, isn't too far off the mark for many graduates entering marketing. But that doesn't mean you should dismiss the jobs on offer at other potentially less glamorous but equally viable employers.

Most businesses are now multi-functional, meaning that engineering firms have marketing departments, and huge ones at that. Energy suppliers need finance graduates and at recruitment companies (such as Milkround) over half of the staff might work in the IT team.

Adapt your skills

But many students don't feel confident applying for roles like these because they don't know much about the market the company works in (and believe me, there are plenty of very niche businesses out there), or fear that their previous work experience won't be transferable to another sector.

These concerns should be dismissed. The majority of employers, particularly those in lesser-known industries are not going to be looking for specific work experience in their field. They're looking for candidates who can display the right characteristics, which can be developed in all kinds of different ways. In addition, you need to be flexible and able to adapt your skills and experience to the role available, not just the one you were expecting.

Excellent communications skills, organisation, teamwork, leadership and responsibility are all far more important than previous experience working for a similar bespoke teapot company, holiday swap agency, or any other type of boutique business you can think of.

Find your niche

While the prospect of working outside of your comfort zone may be a daunting one, doing so can lead to some of the most rewarding opportunities you'll find in your career. You'll gain a wealth of knowledge and experience in an arena that you otherwise would never have encountered, and you may be surprised at the variety of avenues that become available to you.

If someone had told me when I graduated that within two years I would be working as a content editor in graduate recruitment marketing, I would have assumed they were just picking random words, mixing them around and creating a job title. But having taken the chance on a role in an industry previously unknown to me, I've found my niche and I encourage you to broaden your industry horizons and find your own.

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