What Industry Are You In?

What Industry Are You In?

Jobs are an intersection of roles, industries, and sectors. Most jobs are at the intersection of two or three industries. For example, a waiter in a French restaurant is at the intersection of customer service, hospitality, and sales industries. Though it may seem like a no-brainer, it can be tough to identify the industry you work in. This is a key piece of understanding if you're planning on growing in your career.

Defining Industry

The official definition of industry is "a group of manufacturers or businesses that produce a particular kind of goods or services." It involves existing companies (businesses and social enterprises) and a market interested in what they're offering. So what industry are you in?

Here are some common industries (to name a few):
  • Hospitality and Retail
  • Administrative and Customer Services
  • Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
  • Arts and Recreation Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance and Insurance
  • Information Media and Telecommunications
  • Transport and Warehousing

Industry vs. Sector

The terms industry and sector are often used interchangeably. There are key differences, however.


Sectors are large segments of the economy. They are general categories that group types of industries. Sectors can be broken down into four categories - primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary.

  • Primary sectors are involved in the extraction of raw materials.
  • Secondary sectors complete manufacturing and construction.
  • Tertiary sectors supply these goods and services.
  • Quaternary sectors conduct research and development.


An industry is a specific group of companies and businesses with set activities. The companies that fall under the same industry compete for customers. Industries can develop rapidly, but they can also crumble in economic shifts. As technology advances, certain industries become obsolete, while new ones emerge.

It's useful to know what sector of the economy you fall under. This can help you understand the required skills and research how funding and resources are allocated within the sector. But industries are what you need to keep your eye on. Industries change rapidly, and if you want to see personal career development, you need to keep up.

Knowing Your Industry

It's important to see the threads of your work. The industry you're working in isn't as straightforward as you may think. Or perhaps it's not as limited as you've given yourself credit for.

For example, a brand offering couture fashion isn't just in the clothing industry. They're in luxurious customer service, maybe even the entertainment industry. The clothes matter, but the in-store experience, seasonal launches and events, and the membership benefits are what really sell the product.

A financial advisor doesn't fit under just one industry either. They are within financial services, investment management, and insurance.

The point is, your role will be at an intersection of industries. Identifying this intersection will open job opportunities in varying career paths. Say you're very content working in your specific field. Why should you care? Because technology is advancing rapidly and customer demands shift with it. Redefining where you work and what you do will help you make calculated decisions - before it affects your job.

Evolving with Industry Trends

Once you have direction, follow industry trends to remain in the loop. Know how many jobs are on offer. Check industry reports and subscribe to websites and publications. Keep up with major names in the industry on social media. All these things will help you prepare to make changes if and when necessary.

  1. Industry reports

    Leaders in your industry are often conducting original research and sharing their findings in reports. You can access these. Reading through them will identify relevant industry trends. Use them to boost your company's performance and impress your boss at the same time.

  2. Industry trends

    Understanding trends is vital for company growth. Use tools such as Google Trends to analyze customer behaviour and help you channel in on necessary changes you should be making. It's possible that these trends will put a spotlight on gaps in your industry. It could also help you make a career change before your industry collapses.

  3. Smart networking

    As the saying goes - it's not about what you know but who you know. Engage with others in your industry, ideally ones with superior positions. These people can offer industry perspectives you may have not considered. You'll also see your industry from more angles with more insights into the customers you're aiming to please.

  4. Accept changes

    Lastly, you have to be ready for change. You can't get too comfortable, or you may fall behind your competition. It can be difficult to convince leadership teams to make changes. Realistically, technology and people's values and interests are evolving. Your company has to evolve to adjust to industry changes.

Written by Career Specialist Jan 19, 2023
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