Getting a Compliance Job When You Don’t Work in Compliance
People who work in compliance need to have a thorough understanding of industry rules and regulations. Using this knowledge, they review internal processes and procedures to ensure their employers are operating in line with all relevant legislation.
Compliance tends to attract people who are honest, thorough, and meticulous, and there are many different roles within this field including:
Auditors work for regulatory bodies and review companies’ compliance efforts, ensuring they meet regulatory standards.
This is an internal role concerned with ensuring policies comply with regulations. Compliance Officers are also required to write up reports and recommend changes.
An external expert who provides a third-party perspective on compliance related matters. They recommend changes and are often employed by organisations preparing for an audit by regulators.
Just because many compliance professionals seem to follow an established route into the industry, like an apprenticeship or graduate training programme for example, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a career change and sidestep into it from an unrelated field.
It might seem challenging at first, but getting a compliance job when you don’t work in compliance is more achievable than you think. Firstly, consider your academic qualifications. Some A Level or degree subjects might not seem relevant, but attaining this level of education is still a strong signal that you have the necessary ability and intelligence for these roles. Plus, industry regulations are easily learned by reading up about them. The transferable skills you might already possess are more important in helping you make the switch.
Consider the following:
- Are you good at writing reports?
- Are you good at following procedures?
- Do you show a high degree of integrity?
- Do you have a strong attention to detail?
- Are you data-focused with an ability to spot trends, patterns, and anomalies?
- Are you good at problem solving?
- Are you highly organised?
- Do you have good IT skills?
- Are you a good researcher?
- Do you have good communication skills?
- Are you good at building and managing relationships?
Don’t let your lack of legislative knowledge put you off. These broader abilities will serve you well in a compliance role and if you found yourself answering yes to most of the questions, employers are likely interested in what you could potentially bring to this field.
Given the nature of compliance work, people with certain backgrounds seem to make the transition to this kind of role more naturally. Operations management has many similarities and moving across to compliance is a well-trodden path. Sales people often make a successful switch as well. In compliance they can put their relationship management skills to good use in an environment that isn’t as competitive as the target-driven culture they’re used to.
In terms of finding opportunities, you might see compliance jobs advertised internally where you work. This is the easiest way to get into compliance as you’ll receive additional support and training to help you move across. If you word your application carefully, you can also apply for external positions, even if you don’t have the right experience. You just need to demonstrate how your current role and natural aptitude make you a good fit. Finally, there’s no harm in being proactive and approaching compliance managers and departments. Be honest about your lack of regulatory knowledge, but emphasise those important transferable skills.