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Moving from public sector to private sector- Tips for your job search

moving from public sector to private sectorArticle by Ceri Wheeldon
Many people facing redundancy in their 50s and looking for work, are also facing a further challenge- moving from the public sector to the private sector. What should they bear in mind when seeking full time employment in the private sector?
Firstly, be very clear about what your skills are, and which of your career achievements best highlight your abilities.

Job titles are important on a cv

Think about the job titles you put on your CV- do they mean anything outside of the department you were working in- or do you need to stress a more function based title- remember recruiters often scan CVs for keywords, similar to conducting a ‘google’ search. If your skills are hidden behind a complicated title you won’t be found!
Make sure you have your CV registered on all the appropriate job boards (such as Monster) and that you have up to date profiles on all relevant online networks such as Linkedin and Xing. Network as much as possible , both through your own contacts and various formal networking groups. Register with appropriate recruitment agencies – spread your net wide!
Past performance is normally an indicator of future success in employment. Think of examples of your work which show you have taken on a challenge or new initiative and succeeded- make sure these are highlighted in your CV. Emphasise the scenarios which would be similar to those faced by a commercial organisation.

Show flexibility in your approach to work

The private sector thrives on flexibility- show in your CV and covering letter that you have demonstrated flexibility and variety in your public sector career. Location? Hours of work? The less rigid you are in your ‘wish list’ the more likely you are to succeed in your job search. Think about what you can do for the company you wish to work for and make sure this is evident in your cv. Tailor your CV to each application if necessary.

Think about which organisations your skills might be most useful to. For example, which private sector companies provide services to the public sector- would your skills and knowledge be valuable to any of these companies? Target these first. Companies who have taken on public sector outsourcing programmes may have TUPE’d across public sector employees into their own workforce previously so you could find yourself working alongside others who have already successfully made the transition.

Have realistic salary expectations

Be realistic about your salary and employee benefit expectations- you will not have the benefit of length of service when starting a new role – hence holidays etc are likely to be less generous( not to mention the less generous pension arrangements in the private sector), and your skills may not have the same financial value to a private sector employer. Also bear in mind that many private sector employees have been subjected to a pay freeze as a result of the credit crunch- and in some cases a reduction in pay- just to keep their jobs. This will also affect pay scales for new employees coming in to the organisation.
Are your skills up to date? Are there courses you can take, even at your own expense, to bring them up to speed? This will not only enhance your CV but also show a prospective employer that you have shown the initiative and are not expecting them to fund any required retraining.
Is full time employment your aim, or is now the time to consider setting up your own business or working part-time? Would the services of an external jobsearch coach be helpful in assisting you in navigating your way through the hiring process?
There are employment opportunities in the private sector but the market is highly competitive. You need to be well prepared. We have many other articles highlighting in more detail how to approach a job search and preparing for job interviews which should prove useful as you make this transition.

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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