Feeling uninspired at your current job? Looking to change your career—but not sure what to do or how to make the transition? After investing your energy and time into your career, the thought of changing industries can be overwhelming. Over time you realize the career you thought you wanted – isn’t what you hoped it would be. While you know you can change – the problem is how do you change without starting from scratch? Giving up the seniority and taking an entry level is daunting…
A career transition doesn’t have to be stressful—and you definitely don’t have to start from scratch. The key to a successful career transition lies in evaluating your needs and the best way forward and intentionally transferring your years of experience.
You have two key things going for you…you have connections and you have work experience.
Whether you’re looking for a new job in the same industry or a completely different one, your experience and your transferable skills still applies! Don’t write off your career trajectory… most employers are actively looking for new perspectives from other industries that can bring fresh ideas. Remember… Communication is still communication… Leadership is still leadership… wherever you go.
Here’s how you can skip the entry-level positions while changing industries:
Step 1 : Create an inventory of your own skills
Start where you are. Take the time to list all the skills and experiences you have gained over the years. Go as far back as the last 10 years if you can. Create a project tracker that gives you a birds eye view of what you’ve worked on and what impact you have made throughout your career. Changing industries doesn’t mean your work cannot be applied to the new industry. Remember, we are in a global marketplace, the likelihood of synergies are much higher than they ever were. Avoid making the assumption that they would not be valuable in a new industry, instead focus on creating an inventory and map your career journey and growth.
Step 2: Research the New Industry
Dig deep into the trends, best practices, keywords and common challenges in the new industry. Reduce the learning curve when changing industries. You often don’t know what you don’t know. Consider attending public conferences or seminars, volunteering, joining LinkedIn groups, reading books relevant to the industry, and any other opportunities available. These experiences may prove crucial in developing your portfolio and skill set.
Step 3: Identify the new role and the skills needed
Revisit your inventory and review your current experiences or skills. After identifying what you can bring to the table, look at the requirements in the job you wish to have. Use the job description to look at where you would be able to provide the most impact. Pay attention to the Must haves vs the Nice to haves. Evaluate the skills that align and those that you need to add. You want to focus on what they employers really want to see and make the parallels between the two. Don’t assume the Nice to haves are deal-breakers. Take advantage of short courses, specialized learning that can give you an edge.
Step 4: Re-brand and Re-position
When you are re-branding, think about what you want to bring to the new industry. Take the focus off you. Think like the hiring manager – try a non-traditional career path. What would you want to see, and how can you bring that to the surface. Build your portfolio i.e. resume, LinkedIn profile etc. to stand out – get it in front of people. Create your brand around bringing the perspectives and knowledge that will make the same impacts or better than your past accomplishments. Your interest in switching careers is probably centered around your own values. Think about why the switch matters… Employers want to know that you actually want to be there! Self reflect and create the alignment between your values and the industry you want to go into.
Step 5: Leverage your connections
One of the good things about being more seasoned and having experience is, you actually have connections that you can network with. Did you know that networking accounts for approximately 70% of employment opportunities? With this in mind, let your existing network know you’re changing industries. Think about your family, friends, current/past colleagues, or anyone you know in the new industry or outside of the industry. Remember people know other people. What they won’t know until you tell them, is that you need them to help you connect with other people. By sharing, you increase the odds of finding a position that aligns with what you are looking for.
Your experience gives you an edge in the job market—it’s not an impediment. With the right approach, you can re-position and re-brand your skills to help you stand out.