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So, You Want to Switch Industries. Now What?


So, You Want to Switch Industries. Now What?

Franklin Buchanan |

It’s true that you don’t have to work at the same job for your whole life.  In fact, now more than ever, the impact of the pandemic has led to an increase in those considering a career change – with a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll showing that nearly 1 in 3 U.S. workers under 40 have thought about changing their occupation or field of work since the pandemic began.   While most professionals will switch jobs several times, most of those jobs (especially upper-level positions) have traditionally followed a similar career trajectory. So if you’ve been working in your industry for a few years – if not several decades – you most likely know what it takes to move from one role or company to another. But what do you do if you want to change careers completely?   If you’re a mid-career professional who’s considering a career change, there’s good news:  switching industries doesn’t mean you’ll have to start from the bottom of the corporate ladder. The key is positioning your current skills and recent work experiences so your next employer sees that you will add value to their business. Here’s what you need to know about making a successful career change.

Know Your End Goal

After working 10-20 years in your current field, it’s not unreasonable for you to want a change. The question is, what kind of career change is right for you? There are usually two options:

  • A new job in a different industry that uses similar skills. For example, a journalist who transitions to the PR industry will still use their storytelling and communication skills, but in a different arena.
  • A total pivot. If you’re looking to reinvent your work-life, this option is for you. If you’re working at a nonprofit but have always dreamed of being in healthcare, it may take time to acquire the skills, experience, and credentials you need, but it’s doable.

Before you send in your two-week notice to your boss at the accounting firm and start applying for graphic design positions, reach out to friends and coworkers to get their take. They might know someone who could mentor you, or they’ll tell you when to pump the brakes.

List All of Your Skills

That’s right: all of them. Even the skills that are so specific to your current industry you wonder how they could possibly apply anywhere else. Your past experience in the restaurant industry might have given you the interpersonal skills you need to be successful as a publicist. Maybe you picked up something from working as a paralegal that could save your new publishing firm from real trouble. Next, make a list of the skills you’ll need to learn. Check out the “requirements” or “qualifications” section of job postings you’re interested in to see if you need to register for some night classes.

Optimize Your Application

Having a professionally-formatted and well-written resume and cover letter is critical for any job application, but it’s especially important for impressing potential employers who might not otherwise consider a candidate with your background. Framing your skills, abilities, and past work experiences in ways that are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for is key to helping recruiters see why you’re the right person for the job. And don’t forget to prepare your interview answers in advance. Don’t tell recruiters you’re switching industries for a “fresh start,” however true that may be. You’ll want to explain why you wanted a career change and why you’re a valuable hire using specific examples.   At Post Up, we provide career-changers at all levels with the personalized and experienced career counseling and services that can help you solidify your goals, plan your next career move, and navigate today’s changing job market. Our career coaching packages include one-on-one consultations, job search strategies, professional resume and CV writing and feedback on your personal brand.   Ready to be excited to go to work in the morning? Learn more about our career coaching services here.

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