After spending a decade in games media, having reached editor-in-chief level for Imagine Publishing, Ryan King decided to look for a new challenge. He’s now the head of PR for Hadean, a deep tech start-up in London. Here, he gives advice on how to change industry, specifically from specialist media to PR
The main obstacle to overcome when changing industry is the lack of relevant work experience you have. This means that you’ll be leaning on your industry reputation to compensate. If you work hard, work quickly, hit deadlines and get along with your colleagues, people will notice – hopefully, you’re doing all of these things anyway!
Perhaps more importantly, the opposite is also true, and people make themselves look like a poor hire at press events and on social media without even realising. Moaning about your current job or slamming work by your peers might grant you some temporary relief but in the long run, is it worth it? It’s not as simple as locking your Twitter account or scrubbing any controversial tweets when applying for jobs. By that point, the damage might already be done.
When there are PR positions to be filled, publishers and agencies will often look at specialist press to see if there are any obvious candidates to approach. They’ll discuss potential names with their peers and ask for recommendations. This is why reputation is so important.
When I decided I wanted a new challenge after spending almost a decade in specialist media, I was fortunate enough that people recommended me when there was an opening at a PR agency, which is how I made the transition. Even though self-promotion on social media is important, there’s nothing more powerful than someone else singing your praises.
Tailor Your CV
If you’re set on changing industry, the starting point should be tailoring your CV towards your ideal job. You should list any extra activities or projects that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Are there any freelance projects you could pitch for that tie in nicely with the industry you want to work towards? Any eSports tournaments you’ve started? Maybe game nights you’ve helped run?
Even these extra activities aren’t a perfect fit, they show you have initiative and help your CV stand out. And if there’s nothing you’ve done in the past that works well for your CV, think about what you can do, then do it.
When I wanted to push my career forward, I started pitching for freelance work that would look good on my CV, ending up with published Scholastic books and a stint as specialist lecturer for Games Journalism & PR at Staffordshire Uni. That sort of opportunity can be hard to come by but prior to that, I created seminars at Imagine Publishing on SEO, interview technique, and so on.
There’s always something you can do and remember you’re starting at a disadvantage because you don’t have relevant work experience. Use your CV to show how proactive and dedicated you are. If you are serious about changing career, it will come across in your efforts to lift your CV above everyone else’s.
Go for it!
This sounds like obvious advice but if you’re not sure whether your CV makes you a good fit, apply anyway. You have nothing to lose. We’ve all heard anecdotes from HR departments over the years how vacancies can have hundreds of applicants but you rarely do you hear about the quality of them. A strong application can go a long way to compensate for your lack of relevant work experience, particularly if you also have a good industry reputation because those with the relevant work experience who are applying might not put extra effort into their CV to stand out.
My current job at Hadean is a great example. As a tech start-up, I wasn’t sure whether my gaming experience would make me the best ‘fit’ but I applied anyway. It turns out that Hadean was looking for someone with deep games industry experience, to help drive its Aether Engine product forward, so I was perfect for the role.
There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing someone talk themselves out of applying for a job they want because they think they might not be the right fit. Apply and see what happens! Let them make the decision for you and ask for feedback if you’re unsuccessful, otherwise, you might have missed out on your perfect job.
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