Why is it so important to know your industry inside and out?
It sounds like some of the most obvious advice that you could
possibly give a job-hunter, but that’s possibly because it’s such
common-sense advice that it actually gets overlooked by many ambitious
candidates: it really is crucial for you to be well-versed with your
We aren’t just talking about being able to dazzle your interviewers
with in-depth knowledge of your sector. That’s because the principle
that ‘knowledge is power’ applies right at the very start of the
process, when it gives you that awareness of what opportunities are
available in your chosen industry, where to look for them and how to
make yourself the most attractive candidate for them.
Finding the right vacancy – whatever your career stage
That continues through to the actual process of applying for a
vacancy – do you know what the typical responsibilities and salaries are
for jobs in your field? If you are a recent graduate
or someone only just switching to this industry from another sector, do
you know what kind of position you could realistically aim for with
your current skill and experience levels?
When you do come to apply for a certain vacancy in your industry, do
you also know what the typical recruitment processes are? While some
fields may involve several interview stages and perhaps psychometric and other tests, others may be much more informal.
Knowing what employers need and want
It also helps, of course, to know what the typical employer in your
industry is actually looking for in a candidate. That can be ascertained
in part by extensive periods of time spent perusing the person
specifications and job descriptions of advertised jobs in the sector.
However, it’s also sometimes a matter of knowing what relevant
employers are looking for from a bit more first-hand experience, even if
you’ve merely informally spoken to such businesses rather than
necessarily worked for them before.
Developing that crucial industry knowledge
Other invaluable ways of building knowledge of the sector in which
you are looking for jobs include keeping an eye on the relevant labour
market statistics and trends. Is this a sector that is on its way up, or
down? How many people are employed in this industry and what are the
typical salaries, at both the lower and higher ends?
You might also ask yourself how people work in this sector in order
to ascertain the best way of breaking into it – for example,
self-employment, freelancing or casual work may be possible.
Never underestimate the importance of sector know-how
From joining a relevant trade body or interest group to subscribing
to the given sector’s most popular journals and magazines, and perhaps
even volunteering or casual part-time work in the field in order to ‘put
your toe in the water’, there’s so much that you can do to become
familiar with your chosen industry.
The difference in your standard of preparation compared to other
candidates is sure to be noticed when you apply for your next role.