Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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4 Identifying your sector(s)

So what does all this mean for you, then? To a large extent it depends on your individual circumstances and, in particular, on your aims and aspirations. How you decide to move forward depends on what you want to achieve and this will determine which sector(s) you want to explore in more depth.

For example, if you enjoy what you do and just want to find out more about possible progress within your role, then you might not have to do much research. If, however, you decide that you need to leave your current role and change career completely, then the work that you will have to do will be more extensive. If you are currently not in employment, and are looking for work, thinking about the kind of sector you would like to enter in the future may be a good starting point.

Activity 6 asks you to think about your current work situation. If this is the first time you have been asked to think about how you feel about what you want to achieve in the future you may be unsure what to say. You may not have taken time out before to consider what you want from work and how well your current situation matches this.

If this sounds like you, then you may benefit from having a look at the Personal awareness tool in the Toolkit [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Undertaking this activity will give you an opportunity to consider what you want from your life, your values and the kind of work–life balance that would work for you. This self-awareness is the starting point of any consideration of career change or development and will help you when you come to consider the options posed in Activity 6.

Activity 6 My current situation

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Think about your current situation and select one of the options below that best describes how you feel about it. Copy it into the box below, or write it in your notes.

  1. I’m working in a job that I dislike and would like to change.
  2. I’m working in a job that is OK for now but which I would like to leave soon.
  3. I’m working in a job that I enjoy and in which I would like to progress.
  4. I’m not working at the moment and I am seeking a particular type of employment.
  5. I’m not working at the moment and I’m not sure what I will do next.
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Option 1: There is some urgency about starting to think about possibilities, so working on your wider knowledge and understanding of industry and sectors would be very helpful.

Option 2: You have more time to make sensible plans, including thinking about the bigger picture based on your current role, industry and sector.

Option 3: This is positive, suggesting that you have a good starting point in your current role for looking at wider possibilities within your industry or sector and that research would be helpful.

Option 4: You have an idea of what job you would like to do; thinking about the broader context of this might help you to generate ideas and strategies, and to prepare yourself as a credible candidate.

Option 5: You have the broadest options of all, but thinking about previous jobs you have done – and looking at the context of these – might generate ideas and alternatives for consideration.

This may be the first time that you have sat down and thought about yourself in this way, and this can take some getting used to. More often than not, we tend to accept our current situation as being fixed because it takes time and effort to think about alternatives. Either that, or our minds tend to run along well-worn grooves of what is possible and our ideas lack imagination or interest.

This phenomenon, more common when alternative jobs are seen as being scarce, has been termed ‘involuntary non-mobility’ or being ‘locked-in’ (Stengård et al., 2016). This feeling of not having the power or means to leave a job can have profound effects on a person’s perception of their own employability and their ability to change their situation or to move on.

Starting with your current situation, and improving your understanding of this and the wider industry and sector, can help you to break out of this cycle and consider other possibilities and options.

In Activity 6 you identified how you feel about your current work situation. Now you need to think about this a bit more deeply and decide on your specific objectives for moving forward. Activity 7 will help you to do this.

Activity 7 Identifying sectors to research

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Start with the results of Activity 6, where you described your current situation. Then, using the examples of Rachel and James (whom you met in Activity 5) to help you, think about what you need to do and the sectors you might need to research.

Table 5 Ideas for change
Current situation What I need to do Examples of sectors to research

I am currently a pub manager and would like to consider options with a different lifestyle that still involves managing staff and dealing with the public.

I should:
  • find out about options with my current employer
  • find out about other hospitality careers
  • explore the service sector more generally.

Hospitality industry:

  • other pub/hotel groups
  • higher education conference trade

Service sector:

  • retail
  • event management
  • leisure
  • recreation
  • health-related services


I am currently a sports assistant in a leisure centre and would like to consider options using my current skills but with more responsibility.

I should:

  • find out about senior positions within the leisure industry
  • find out about other leisure careers related to sport
  • explore related sectors such as retail.

Leisure industry:

  • sports clubs
  • leisure centres
  • fitness and health spas
  • sports coaching
  • hotels

Related sectors:

  • sports goods retail/wholesale
  • sports equipment manufacture
  • recreation
  • health

My current situation

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What I need to do

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Sectors to research

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This activity should have given you a broad sense of where you are now and what you might do next based on your current role. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer about this. You know best what your current situation is and so you will have the clearest sense of how you might want to change this.

Having identified several areas that you want to follow up in more detail, you might want to speak to others in order to get a different view on this. This could be someone you know well, and who knows you well, such as a relative or friend, or someone you work with. Alternatively, you might want to talk to a professional with the skills and knowledge to help you move on, such as a careers adviser or someone in HR. The final part of this week’s learning focuses on identifying the time that you have available to start putting these plans into action.

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