Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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1 What is a sector, industry, profession and a job?

Have you ever sat down and thought about the bigger picture into which your job fits? This is not just about the other people that you work with, your managers, or the staff you manage, but the wider economic context of your work.

Sometimes, if you have been doing a job for a while or are in a job that you do not really like, it may be difficult to think about this bigger picture. You may be working for a particular employer, but what profession, business, industry or sector does that fit into? Take a moment to think about the example below.

Joe

Joe is a software engineer employed by a retail organisation specialising in fashion. He might describe himself as a software engineer (job) but also as an IT professional (profession). Moreover, he also works in the fashion industry (industry/business), an important part of the retail sector (sector).

Activity 1 My job context part 1

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Think about your current job or a job that you have had in the past – or even a job that you would like to move into. Spend five minutes just thinking about this job and its context in the way that Joe has above. Complete the table below; Joe’s responses have been included as an example.

Table 1 Where does my job fit in?

Joe’s response Your response
Job title Software engineer
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Profession IT professional
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Business/industry Fashion
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Sector Retail
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Words: 0
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Comment

Did you find that these categories were completely separate or was there some overlap between them? Sometimes, it is difficult to see the precise boundaries between jobs and professions, for example, or between industries and sectors. Maybe you feel that your current role is a job but not a profession so left this box empty. In addition, people will use these terms in different ways and, where one person will say industry, another will say sector. Don’t worry too much about this at the moment, as you will be looking at definitions in the next section.

Although this might sound a bit confusing to start with, it is important that you think about the wider context of your current job, or the job that you would like, so that you can see it in perspective. Doing so will widen your understanding of the economy and of how businesses operate, and provide you with the knowledge required to make plans and move on.

You will look in more detail at some important terms in the next section, but first listen to Rebecca and Charlie from Gradconsult explain how an understanding of the sector you want to work in, and the challenges it faces, can put you ahead of other candidates in a competitive recruitment process.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_uys_1_video_week1_interview_fielding_reeve.mp4
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