Leadership Blog

Posted By: Eva Grabner | on October 1 2015

Are you thinking of changing industries?

In an ever fluctuating economy, I am speaking to more and more people interested in changing industries. It is always a question I ask candidates with a history in one industry ‘Are you open to changing industries?’; if they are, ‘What industries?’. This is an insightful question in itself, as I am always curious as to how ‘open’ they actually are. Have they thought about it before? If not, they will now.

I myself was faced with this nearly a decade ago. After nearly 20 years in hospitality and tourism I was burnt out and tired of the long hours, low pay and expectations on people in this industry. After moving from Europe to the US and working on 5 star cruise ships for 10 years, Australia’s culture around hospitality and tourism was shocking. It was (and still is in some cases) mediocre in its delivery yet expectations were extremely high. People in this industry do it for the love and not the pay, and it is the pay in hospitality that needs serious attention. The old saying ‘If you pay peanuts, expect monkeys’ is mostly true. In the U.S. at least you work for tips so you have an option to supplement your income, the Australians however, don’t believe in tipping unless they receive exceptional service (even then in most cases they don’t). Anyway, I could write another blog on this topic.

So, here I was, desperate to get out of a declining industry but with no idea where to move next. HR was the obvious choice as I had HR skills and experience and had managed teams of up to 60 people in the past. I am a good people person and very passionate. But what was there for me outside of hospitality?

Firstly, I had to consider the following:

  1. Was I willing to take a pay cut? Yes, less than hospitality! But I had no experience in any other industry (or very little). Sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward.
  2. What was I passionate about? It’s important to do what you love and like my idol Richard Branson says ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life’. I made a list – Working with people, setting up processes within businesses, managing staff … etc. ..
  3. What skills did I have? Another list – managing people, working with people, organising, etc. ..
  4. Do I need to undertake further education? Possibly …
  5. Who in my network could provide advice and guide me?
  6. Does my resume adequately reflect my experience?

After careful consideration, I decided that HR was the best move for me and I spoke with a trusted recruitment agent about my dilemma.  She then suggested ‘recruitment’.  Well, I nearly fell off my chair!  It wasn’t an industry I had even considered or was interested in (or was I?), nor did I hold much respect for some recruiters after coming from a management role and receiving unwanted phone calls and emails from them on a daily basis.

I do, however, have an open mind, so after careful consideration and dialogue with the owner of a local agency, I decided to accept their offer of employment and so my new career in a new industry began!

The rest, they say, is history. I was mentored by an amazing woman and respected industry leader for three years before moving to Sydney and working for a very strong and respected Executive Recruitment firm, I soon realised that most recruiters are passionate about their jobs. When you think about it, what better job is there in the world than finding amazing leaders for businesses and placing leaders into their dream jobs?

It’s the best job in the world. Hands down, and I love it!

If you’re thinking about changing careers, speak with someone; a mentor, a recruiter, a friend, or someone you respect and is likely to help you think outside the box. You never know what crazy idea may unfold!

Be open to something new; you never know where a new road may lead.


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