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Five steps to take when switching industries

By Alison Rodericks | 28 February 2018

You’re physically at your work desk, but you’re mentally counting down each minute to when you can clock off. You’ve got a case of Mondayitis that lasts all week long. You’re taking extended lunch breaks and taking sick days when you don’t even have the sniffles. Even the opportunity to get involved in an important project doesn’t excite you. You’ve looked up vacancies on job sites and have updated your CV and LinkedIn profile. You’ve not only been toying with the idea of a job change, but want to make a complete change and switch industries altogether.

Does this sound like you?

How do you turn that career-switching dream into an economically viable reality? If you’re considering switching careers but have serious doubts on whether you can score a job in a different industry, we’ve got five handy tips that will smooth out the bumps along your career highway.

career envy concept

How to switch industries in five steps 

  1. Do a self evaluation.
  2. Network, network, network.
  3. Do your research.
  4. Update your resume.

1. Do a self evaluation.

Now’s the time to look deep within yourself to see why you want to make the change. Get your notebook ready and write it all down. Ask the all-important question - Should I change industries?

Identify what’s making you unhappy in your current role.

Is it something that can be easily fixed? For instance, if you are at loggerheads with your boss or colleagues, you could rectify this by changing departments or looking for a job with another similar organisation – you don’t need to switch industries. Maybe you disagree ethically with your industry, for instance maybe you work in an industry that makes something that harms the environment. Perhaps this is now the time to re-evaluate your own values and see if they marry up to the industry you are working in.

Assess your skills, training and areas of expertise.

What are your drives, your passions, your strengths? What gives you a sense of satisfaction? What makes you happy? What are your core values? What sort of personality do you have? A good tip is to recall what you enjoyed doing as a child or as a teen or even now in your volunteer roles. It will point you in the direction of what you are passionate about. If you hit a brick wall, ask people who know you best – your family, your best mates, your colleagues. Back this up with a couple of online career quizzes and personality/aptitude tests or meet with a career counsellor. Once you have a clear sense of self, you can move forward.

2. Network, network, network.

It’s true what they say, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Now’s the time to open those lines of communication. Finding out about job prospects, training requirements and the nitty-gritties of daily life on the job is now your current role. In other words, make LinkedIn (and other social networks) your closest friend.

Talk to people in the industry

Let your contacts know you’re available, ready and willing to switch industries. Pick up the phone and make a few calls, as personal contact is show to…..(need a study here). Networking opportunities present themselves all the time –so be prepared with pertinent questions. 

Seek out a mentor

Preferably someone in the industry you want to move into. 

Don’t burn your bridges with ex-bosses and colleagues

You never know when your paths might cross again, and their network can work in your favour. 

networking concept

3. Do your research.

Yes, you want to switch to another industry – but is it the right move, or will it mean professional harakiri five years down the line? Here’s where it pays (quite literally) to do your groundwork, learn the industry and gain valuable insights. Do your research to see and which are stagnating. For instance, jobs in (specially Aged Care) and have been on an up-swing for the past few years.

Once you have zeroed in on a particular industry, find out more. Are there relevant job vacancies? Is there chance for career progression? What sort of training is required? Join a few LinkedIn Groups or professional associations in the industry, follow key people’s profiles, read and comment on their posts. It’s important to immerse yourself and become an active participant.

4. Update your skills.

If you’re worried that you will have to go through the entire process of requalifying only to start at the bottom rung, remember that you are able to leverage your transferable skills. Assess your worth and marketability to prospective employers. Employers often look at your past experience and abilities to see how well you could adapt and apply these skills to your new role. Take your transferable skills with you to your new job and use them to your advantage.

Quite often you will need to gain relevant qualifications or update your current qualifications. There are online courses that allow you to work on your qualifications before you leave your paying job. So if you are wanting to move into a new industry like , you have the advantage of specific industry qualifications on top of your previous experience and skills . It’s the perfect way to bridge the skills gap and be on top of your game.

updating resume

5. Update your resume.

Remember to highlight soft skills and abilities on your resume, while networking, and of course, when you’re at a job interview. For example, if you’ve worked in print media and have excellent editorial skills, but you wish to switch industries to community services, you should draw attention to these communication skills to work on a not-for-profit organisation’s social media, press releases, newsletters, and digital marketing.

When you do decide to take the plunge and switch industries, make sure your cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile are tailored to this change. You might not have the perfect skill set, but highlight your transferable skills, any and a willingness to learn on the job. Put your networking skills to good use and volunteer your services at industry-specific organisations. Sometimes, the reality is far different to what you pictured, so it helps to try the hands-on approach.

Don’t let fear hold you back from switching industriesYou’ve done the research, now go get that job.

As Dr. Seuss said in ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

Any direction you choose.”

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