Originally published May 18, 2018 and revised May 21, 2020.
Does the pandemic have you rethinking your career path or considering a change in jobs? You’re not alone. It’s common for people to reassess their current life in times of crisis. Whether you’re just starting out your career or you’re a seasoned veteran in your industry, pivoting can feel like a daunting undertaking. Acquiring different skills, developing new relationships, and risking a pay cut can deter many candidates from exploring alternative careers or industries. However, for many there can be rewarding benefits to changing things up. When it comes to transitioning jobs, set yourself up for success using our nine tips on how to switch industries in the middle of your career.
Start by outlining your career goals.
As you begin evaluating options, take some time to identify what you’d like to achieve next. Do you want to follow a dream or passion and achieve greater purpose in the workplace? Are you seeking career growth opportunities or long-term financial stability? Or perhaps your change was caused by necessity—your role was eliminated, or you were laid off. Regardless of why you’ve decided to change jobs, it’s important to outline what you want to accomplish during the next phase of your career. Find some inspiration or lean on a mentor to help you shape your goals.
Take time to research your target industry.
Before you leap into a new role, make sure you understand your target field. Conduct research on the industry’s needs and trends. Learn about jobs titles, salary ranges, and career paths. Educate yourself on the common terminology so you can have informed conversations when you talk to people in the industry. Find out what they enjoy and what challenges them. Once you have insights into your new career path, you’ll have a better understanding of what it will take to make it happen.
Expand your skills, knowledge, and education.
Determine if the field you are trying to break into requires any specific degrees, certifications, or continued education. What skills or training do you need to get the job of your dreams? Regardless of what industry you’re considering (ex. technology, engineering, or accounting) there may be some certification programs and resources that can sharpen your skills and enhance your resume. For example, if you want to learn how to code, there are plenty of online boot camps that will teach you the core development skills you’ll need in your next job. Research advanced educational programs online, ask your professional network for advice, or reach out to a recruiter who can make a recommendation.
Acquire relevant, applicable experience.
If you’re making a significant career change, your work history may not be especially relevant to your new target field of work. Even if the new job you want is related to what you currently do for a living, a hiring manager might not make the connection between what you’ve done and the position you’re applying for. Hiring managers are often looking for specific experience—show them you’re serious about the transition by taking on some extra projects that demonstrate your ability to be successful in your new line of work. For example, if you’re seeking a career in software development, start contributing to GitHub in relevant programming languages. Build up your portfolio by taking on personal projects that showcase your abilities. And don’t be afraid to take on an internship or volunteer—this can be a great way to get experience or get your foot in the door of a new organization.
Maintain a positive attitude and don’t give up!
It’s not uncommon to face some hardship while you’re pursuing a career in a new industry. You may not score your dream job after your first interview, and that’s okay. Remember that you’ll be competing against candidates that might have many years of experience. Be prepared to work hard and fail without losing your enthusiasm. Bounce back and stay motivated by revisiting your goals and use each encounter as a learning opportunity.
Network, network, network!
One of the most important steps to take when pursuing a new job is to put yourself out there and meet people in the industry. Attend a virtual meet-up, sign up for an online conference or join a networking group to expand your knowledge and identify the skills you need to acquire. These days, there are many virtual options to connect with others like Meetup. Have conversations with thought leaders, peers, and colleagues to tell your story and learn about potential job opportunities. Remember that you’ll get out of it as much as you put into it, so be bold, introduce yourself to new people, and ask insightful questions to make a lasting impression.
Work with a recruiter.
Recruiting agencies, especially one that is as well connected as VanderHouwen, can be a big help when it comes to navigating a job change. From advising you on specific skills you need to acquire to making certification and education recommendations, recruiters know what hiring managers are looking for. They can help candidates figure out where to invest their time and can introduce you to connections in the industry. Recruiters can facilitate the entire job application process, from formatting your resume and preparing you for the interview, to negotiating a great job offer. Meet your recruiter in-person (video works, too!) and share the work you’ve been putting into making the transition. Ignite confidence in them so they can do the same with the hiring manager!
Switching career paths can be scary. It often involves taking a less senior position or a short-term pay cut as you build the skills you need to succeed in a new industry. However, if you do your research and prepare yourself, it’s achievable, rewarding, and worth your effort.
Are you looking to transition into a new industry? We can help guide you with the skills, networking events, and certifications needed to make your career transition a successful one. Connect with us today!