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Crossing Sectors

The idea of switching career paths and cross-sector working has been increasingly popular over the last few years, particularly for senior and executive roles. From government departments to local councils and a range of national and regional not-for-profit organisations, the challenges posed by achieving continuous improvement in performance management have influenced a rethink on the future of public sector service delivery.

The importance of integrated services and partnership working as well as the creation of new private or not for profit provider organisations has generated a new flexibility and business culture across sectors where commercial backgrounds, process management or particular areas of expertise are highly valued at executive level. 

We are uniquely placed to help potential senior candidates find challenging roles in a variety of settings. We have an impressive track record in developing both people and organisations to improve capacity and service delivery within the public sector. This expertise is illustrated in our successful placing of a number of talented individuals who have gone on to clearly demonstrate the benefits of transferring skills and experience between sectors.

If you are thinking more broadly about your future career, beyond a more traditional path, then contact us to see how we can help you to transfer your skills across sectors. Below we have listed some points you might want to consider if you think that switching sectors might be for you:

The things you need to know before switching from the public sector

  • Medium to large sized private sector organisations roughly equate in size, if not complexity, to smaller district councils.
  • If you have a financial background, it can pay dividends in the private sector as over 40% of private sector chief executives have a financial qualification.
  • The growth in outsourcing of traditional council services has opened up new avenues within the private sector, especially in the areas of leisure, IT, property management, housing, regeneration, waste disposal, construction and electronic service delivery.
  • Public sector and private sector partner bodies are working closely together to deliver outcomes in CRM, health, children’s services, community safety and regeneration.
  • Maximise your market value in the private sector by putting yourself forward for secondments or project-based work. These could make you more marketable to private enterprise. The focus upon improving customer services provides new opportunities to work in partnership with external service providers so get involved in the development of contact centres and customer relationship management systems if opportunities arise.
  • Broaden your public sector experience – from health to local government, central government to the not-for-profit sector.
  • Vacancies in the private sector are not always advertised, you could get an interview opportunity via a network connection.
  • The private sector tends to make greater use of specialist consultancies to recruit senior staff. Large private sector organisations tend to accept a much smaller number of shortlisted candidates for interview.
  • Private sector organisations can make greater use of psychometric testing and assessment centres to identify key strengths in shortlisted candidates.
  • Be prepared to negotiate. The benefits offered within the private sector can often include private health care, bonus payments and opportunities for accredited training, to name just a few. These can be the subject of negotiation between you and your employer.
  • Standard private sector pensions are unlikely to match those within the public sector, so bear this in mind when negotiating your package.
  • Bear in mind that there is less movement from public to private sector and public sector candidates report lower levels of success in securing interviews with private companies.

The things you need to know before switching from the private sector

  • There are over 300 occupational groups within the public sector, ranging from doctors, teachers and town planners to CRM, regeneration, communication and legal experts. Many of the generic management skills are perfect for transference.
  • The average salary at executive level compares well with similar posts in the private sector.
  • The not-for-profit sector tends to have the lowest salaries.
  • The NHS in England has over 600 employers, employing close to 1.3 million staff.
  • There are significant skills shortages in the public sector. At senior levels, this is particularly the case in areas such as IT, accountancy, business and people management and project planning.
  • Recruitment in the public sector can be perceived as overly bureaucratic when compared with the private or not-for-profit sectors.
  • Despite modernisation there are still a number of traditional political processes and practices within the public sector which ‘outsiders’ may find difficult to understand at first. Don’t let this put you off as you will get a lot of support if your employer is keen to have your skills on board.
  • The government is keen to devolve more responsibility to local government and develop a more regional focus with responsibility for sustainable development frameworks, economic strategies, spatial strategies, transport, waste and housing. These are the sorts of high profile roles which it is hoped will attract a higher calibre of experienced managerial leaders. Experience of commercial mergers and acquisitions will also be valuable as this agenda progresses.
  • In local government, councils with appropriate CPA (Comprehensive Performance Assessment) ratings have been granted the freedom to trade their services with other public sector bodies. Once again, success in this area is critically dependent on councils having access to the right people with a wider range of backgrounds and the right skills at all levels.

If you would like to learn more about how GatenbySanderson can help you, contact us on Leeds 0113 205 6071, London 020 7426 3960 or Birmingham 0121 644 5700.