How to move from the Public Sector to the Private Sector
Whether you’re an internal auditor, external auditor or another type of risk or compliance professional, there will likely come a time in your career when you may consider making the move from the public sector into a private sector auditing role. In this article we discuss the difference between public and private, and how you can begin the transition into the Australian or New Zealand private sectors.
The key similarities of Private & Public Sector Auditing are:
- Public sector and private sector auditors use the same basic principles and are expected to comply with the same independent auditing standards
- Auditors must be fully independent with no vested interest in the corporations they audit and must guarantee the level of accuracy of their reporting
The key differences of Private & Public Sector Auditing are:
- Most public sectors provide services, rather than making profits so public sector auditors will often only be provided with limited information on their financial statements. Alternatively, their audits may be centred around safety, security, information systems performance etc, rather than the financial success.
- Private sector auditors are often required to report in to company boards and/or their audit committees on behalf of the shareholders, as opposed to public sector auditors, who are likely to report to a minister of parliament or departmental head.
How do you make the switch to auditing in the private sector?
1. Identify your skills
Take a look at what you have achieved in your audit career so far, and list your skills. This will determine what job opportunities will be right for you and where the next step in your professional life should be.
2. Work out the best options available to you that suit your skills
Think about your current auditing experience - is it enough to gain you a permanent role straight off the bat, or should you consider an interim contract role? What about the locations you wish you work in? How competitive is the field of candidates for jobs you want to go after? And realistically what audit salary should you be aiming for?
3. Consider upskilling/getting a further qualification
If you don’t feel your current skill set is enough to get you on the right track for your dream job, think about contacting qualified organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) or Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Gaining certifications from these reputable industry bodies will set you apart from other auditing professionals.
4. Sell your skills to your prospective employer
There is a disconnect between what prospective auditors perceive, and what employers with the public sector expect when interviewing for a role - the majority of public sector employers consider public sector experience as unimportant, which means you will need to clearly identify and convey your relevant auditing experience not only in your CV but also during the interview. Try to use general business terminology as opposed to public sector specific language.
Whatever your final decision is, make sure you take your time to way up the pros and cons of making the transition against what your overall career goals are. Are you a public or private sector auditor? Which sector would you prefer to work for and why?