It helps you build confidence and make relevant and reasonable decisions for that specific industry.
Suppose you are looking for career prospects. Or you want to start a business. Maybe you are working in a regulatory role and have to declare reasonable laws. You might be a lawyer whose client needs help with compliance.
You can also be an HR manager or recruiter looking for the best talent at your or the client's Company. Finally, suppose you are a wealthy investor. In that case, you still want to invest in a company with the best potential to generate profits.
What are the vital factors you must consider in these decisions? Of course, the answer is industry knowledge.
Ask yourself: What do I know about the industry I am operating in (building a career, creating a business, hiring people, or even declaring laws)?
It is the knowledge or expertise of companies operating in a particular industry. This knowledge is essential and applicable to all stakeholders (customers, employees, competitors, suppliers, investors, and regulators).
It helps you build confidence and make relevant and reasonable decisions for that industry. The outcomes of those decisions are:
1) Being hired to or promoted to a higher position
2) Launching a successful startup
3) Sound regulations by the government
Unlike academic knowledge, industry knowledge is accumulated through years of active experience. Active involvement in the sector means actively tracking the latest news, current trends, and regulatory perspectives.
Both employees and businesses need to invest in education and research about the industry. The outcome of that education in the industry dynamics, such as the market share, product, customers, recruitment, pricing, technological development, etc., is excellent.
People must never undermine the importance of industry knowledge. Any industry is dynamic, meaning that any segment evolves, and people working, operating, investing, and regulating in that industry must develop at the same pace.
Examples include the following:
- How the firm operates with its clients, employees, competitors, and suppliers
- Who are the current and potentials customers, and what are their needs and wants
- Who are the existing competitors of the firm
- How is the business product development process done
Industry Knowledge Competency Levels
According to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), there are five levels of industry knowledge:
|Foundational||At this stage, your competency is limited. |
You can't deal with complex problems.
Your technical proficiency is at the minimum level.
This level is also called "Basic Understanding."
|• Know the competitors in the industry and their goods and services|
• Identified primary industry publications and professional standards
• Shows genuine interest in learning and curious to know more about the industry
• Familiar with current industry developments
|Intermediate||You easily handle routine situations. |
You have a solid knowledge of the industry.
You've worked for several years in the industry.
This level is also called "Solid Basic Understanding."
|• Knowing how to interact with other industry players|
• Knowing the leaders, innovators, and key players of the industry
• Sharing of helpful industry information
• Ability to see the business from the view of the other businesses in the industry
• Ability to conduct industry analysis, technical market data, and make conclusions
• Understanding of the major growth drivers of the industry
|Seasoned||At this level, you easily apply your knowledge in your everyday work. |
You can solve most of the problems.
This level is also called "Solid Understanding."
|• Identifying the challenges of the industry in terms of ICT, globalization, corporate governance, and competition|
• Being able to collect, organize, analyze, disseminate, and interpret relevant industry data
• Sound knowledge of the history of other players and their evolvement over time
• Understanding the value chain and function of the industry
• Up-to-date with major industry trends through reading industry publications, attending conferences and other meetings of professional associations in the industry
• Up-to-date knowledge of industry standards
|Advanced||At this stage, you can solve problems at any complexity level.|
This level is also called "Advanced Industry Knowledge."
|• Leading knowledge of national and international industry stakeholders|
• Proficient in the relation of industry to other economic sectors
• Guru of the industry with knowledge sought after by other players
• Continuously improving the industry knowledge through education on recent trends
• Having a solid reputation within the industry and thus connecting with other industry leaders
• Contributing to the formulation of industry standards
• Understanding the broad picture of the industry: growth in industry segments, emerging processes, and trends
|Mastery||At this stage, you can:|
|• Ability to contribute to strategic decisions in the industry|
• Capability to communicate complex industry issues and challenges
• Competence in formulating strategies to exploit opportunities
• Timely and detailed insight into the industry developments and their impact on the strategic plans of the organization
• Proactively publicizing helpful information to clients
• Awareness of critical issues at every industry stage: local (e.g., city, state), regional (e.g., APAC), and international.
• Offering relevant solutions
Tips to Increase your Knowledge
You might say: "Well, I understand why industry expertise is important. But Almat, how can I improve my knowledge?"
There are six ways to gain or improve knowledge in the industry.
This is the number one thing you must consider to succeed in any industry. Therefore, the knowledge acquired through interaction with other people working in the industry is vital.
Opportunities in some industries might not be available to the public or be disseminated to the media after a particular time. A person with excellent networking skills can know that industry trends are up-to-date before the news pops up in the media.
Remember, your network = your net worth.
You can attend industry events such as symposiums, trade shows, and analyst briefings. These industry events will allow you to connect with your peers and expand your network. That way, you keep abreast of industry trends and the latest jobs.
The other way to network is through joining professional groups and associations. Many members of professional associations are well-versed in industry trends and can give you real-time information.
The last but not least method is networking through social media. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter provide you with probably one of the most feasible and effective ways to start networking. In addition, you can find and contact industry professionals at the lowest cost.
2. Reading industry publications
You can learn about the industry by reading industry publications. So Almat, what's the difference between industry publications and consumer-focused publications? The former gives you granular insight into the industry. The latter only covers the surface of the sector.
Even when you are busy, try to set aside some time to read industry publications. You can also read a wide range of related industries. For example, you may operate in a biotechnology company. So you might read magazines about both the healthcare and IT sector.
If you want to achieve your goal, find someone who has already done that in the past.
You may already hear about it in many places. The same principle applies to building knowledge. The mentor has already succeeded in the industry, and the mentee (the learner) is a beginner who needs guidance.
Both parties can benefit from mentorship. The mentee can get solid first-hand knowledge from the mentor with years of work experience. In exchange, the mentee can help the mentor with some tasks.
Mentorship is a win-win strategy regardless of your position in that relationship.
Book the call with our mentors if you want to land a job.
4. Online research
Research is probably one of the most critical skills in any industry. With the creation of the internet, researching has become more feasible, and it's essential to use this opportunity. You can learn to do anything (from generic concepts to detailed ones) by searching the internet.
You can also research your Company. Visit your firm's social media accounts, such as LinkedIn and Twitter pages. Subscribe to industry experts on YouTube; that way, you can easily research your firm and industry.
You may also listen to podcasts when you are on break. You can even download many podcast episodes offline and listen to them on your way to/from work.
5. Taking refresher courses
Many people forget some concepts long after graduating from their schools. Therefore, they should repeat the curriculum to retain that knowledge. The refresher courses from industry experts are the best way to do so.
Check our Elite Modeling Package course if you want to break into Investment Banking, but lack the necessary skills.
6. Finding a niche
The industry is a broad part of the economy. It can be further divided into different categories or niches. Professionals with niche expertise can give valuable advice and make sound decisions.
Professionals concentrating on a specific niche have a competitive edge over other generalist employees.
Importance to Business
This knowledge is essential for businesses to strive or, at least, to stay alive. Companies must be up-to-date with recent news. If the companies lack crucial information, they will become vulnerable to security issues or might not comply with all regulations.
All of that might happen in the worst case. In the best case, the lack of industry wisdom will lead the business to lose opportunities to its competitors. Also, high-performing industry rivals might attract the Company's customers.
1. Identify new opportunities
Being up-to-date with all recent trends and developments in the industry will give the business a competitive edge. In addition, by first moving in and acquiring the information, the Company can exploit any opportunity ahead of its competitors.
The opportunities might come from changing consumer behavior, new technology, different business models & strategies, and increased demand for specific products. These are possible areas of improvement and innovation for any industry.
2. Staying ahead of the competition
Business needs to win competitors to be large and profitable. The likelihood of success for any business is closely related to adaptability to changing environments. Companies can offer new products and use effective technology that brings convenience to production.
In addition, they can also make it easier for customers to pay, order, and get the goods. Companies may also use more qualified and productive candidates to improve their output. For example, banks that invested in digital technology are currently leading the banking industry.
3. Compliance with regulations
This is the number one priority of any company to do its business legally. All business operations must comply with the laws, rules, and regulations. Unfortunately, many enterprises neglect this point and incur unprecedented consequences.
In the best case, the firm might be charged a fee. This is just the financial cost. Sometimes the legal cost is added, leading the firm to close or shut down.
4. Awareness of security issues
Data is probably the most sensitive part of any business. In the 21st century, any company has to maintain large amounts of data in databases of customers, employees, suppliers, etc. Any malware or cyber-attacks might compromise the data.
The business must take data protection measures such as:
Importance to Employees
This knowledge is crucial for your career too. When writing a resume, cover letter, or preparing for an interview, you have to consider that factor. There are five reasons why you need industry intelligence:
1. Shows credibility
Knowing the industry is vital. It will help you understand what people on the other side of the table expect from you. This knowledge includes full awareness of the Company's history, mission and vision, leading competitors, the latest news, and advantages.
2. Makes you valuable
Companies want to hire people who will improve their businesses. In other words, they want people who can bring value. But, of course, the best way to give value is through industry intelligence. By knowing the industry, you see the business's needs. You can also address the Company's challenges and put in compelling work.
3. Makes work easier
Warren Buffett said, "The more I learn, the more I earn." To earn more, you have to work effectively and efficiently. With industry knowledge, you can effectively deal with suppliers and customers and know about future trends in your work.
4. Improves decision making
The proper knowledge, research of competitors, coursework, and networking will allow you to make unbiased and informed decisions. It is essential to show that you are responsible for choosing your career. You will be trustworthy to them.
On the other hand, you need to grow personally. A career is like other fields of our lives (health, relationships, spirituality) that need serious attention.
Remember, your first step will determine your next steps! So, take time, and do your homework on industries and careers to avoid wasting years of your life on things you don't want to do.
5. Contributes to customer satisfaction
This applies to many front-office departments of the Company. People in the front office must understand customers' needs and wants. They must know their customers and use as much information about them as possible. The sector knowledge will give you a competitive edge over other professionals.
Interview questions to show your industry knowledge
Research the Company before you do the job interview. It will help you differentiate yourself from other candidates. But you have to go above and beyond that company-level knowledge.
You have to explore the Company's industry and show yourself as a person who is intelligent about a career decision. You should not be a genius knowing all the facts to present yourself well. Instead, you should be able to convey your answer to the most common questions.
Here are the four most common interview questions:
Why Are You Interested in Our Company?
The best way to answer this question is to discuss the firm's industry.
For example, you might say:
"Your Company has a great track record for embracing innovation//integrity/meritocracy/etc. The industry developed at a [certain pace: fast/moderate/slow]. [Company] 's XYZ products have been at the forefront. I'm interested in this kind of [creative/collaborative/etc.] environment."
What do you know about the Company?
This is the simple question that every firm will ask you regardless of your job type. So naturally, the more material you provide, the higher your chances of landing the job.
The sample answer could be:
"I learned about your Company [N] many years ago through an [event/conference/job posting]. I am impressed with the Company's mission/vision to [explain with your words]. So, I started to follow the Company's page on [Social Media such as Twitter/LinkedIn].
I researched the Company and learned [XYZ]. A few company employees [put the names of those employees] motivated me to work in this Company. They have shown how the daily projects are solved, and new products are developed."
What are your strengths?
Try to sew your strengths that are related to the industry. For example, you might have many years of work experience in that industry. Leverage it.
Here is the sample answer to this question:
"My experience and knowledge in the industry are my major strengths. I've been working in this field for [many years], which brought me insights into the opportunities and challenges of the industry.
I've also taken industry-related courses, such as [name of the systems]. Those courses equipped me with practical skills I use today in my daily work. Also, the conferences that I've attended expanded my network in this industry.
On top of that, I'm constantly researching industry news & trends. For example, recently, I've learned about [name of the development/product/innovation].
All of my research, networking, and awareness of the latest trends will help me be a better professional in this industry."
What are your plans for the next five to seven years?
You have to show your goals in your chosen career and how their offer relates to your goals. Combine both components, and you will be a winner.
Here is the sample answer:
"Over the next five/seven years, I would like to improve my industry knowledge and become an expert. So I've been doing [courses/research publications/articles] to start learning toward my future goals.
By that time, I hope to be a mentor who can help other professionals in the industry. I've been taking senior roles to achieve this goal and learning to be better at leadership."
Our Interview Preparation courses will equip you for the interview in finance and consulting.
Check out our Industry Comparisons course to learn about careers in different financial industries.