4 Ways to Shift Industries without Taking a Step Backward

Transitioning to a brand new industry is always a tricky business, no matter what age you are. But believe it or not, there are ways to do it without taking a step backward. Read on for some things to keep in mind as you leap into a new professional enterprise.

4 ways to shift industries_In Article

1. First consider an in-house shift

Before you take the giant leap to a different industry entirely, first consider a smaller (and, admittedly, easier) transition within your current company—especially if you are perfectly happy with your company as a whole. Discuss the possibility of changing roles internally with your employer. This kind of move may prove successful since he or she already knows you and is therefore more willing to take the time for any additional training you may need in order to fill a brand new (to you) position.

2. Do some soul searching

So, sticking with the same company is not possible (or desirable)? The next step is to decide what you want to do. Of course, that is often much easier said than done. Try starting with some basic questions, such as “What’s my end goal?” and “If I keep doing what I’m doing today, will I get closer to my ultimate goal?” After you have determined what exactly you want to do—which may take much more time for some people than for others—begin to craft a step-by-step plan to get there. Do not forget to include the obstacles and roadblocks you will likely hit on the way. Although it might not be pleasant to consider what could go wrong during your industry transition, your future self will thank you if you have all your bases covered and contingency plans in place before you start.

3. Transform your experience

Just because you want to switch industries does not mean all those years of experience at your current job are useless. In fact, it is always possible to take those skills and lessons you developed and repurpose them—it may just take a little creativity. Remember to make the skills “potential-oriented and performance-oriented” in order to maximize your desirability as a candidate. This means emphasizing anything you have done that highlights things like your resourcefulness, your ability to think on your feet, or your successful management of teams or projects. These are the kinds of skills and experience that hiring managers value most—no matter the industry.

4. Go the extra mile

Oftentimes, career advancement is all about the presentation. This means doing all you can to market yourself as someone who is able to successfully transition from one area to another. Forbes recommends writing down an inventory—not only of the skills and experience you already have, but also the ones you need in order to boost your chances of breaking into your desired new area. How can you make yourself the most attractive candidate possible? Is it taking extra courses or classes in a certain field? Getting a particular certification? Trying your hand at freelance projects in order to gain extra experience? Once you have drawn up a plan of what needs to get done, you will likely feel better about having a clear(er) roadmap of how to achieve your new career.

5. Embrace the inexperience

If you are really struggling to find a way to translate your current skills into something marketable for your desired new industry, try looking at small startups. Many do not care as much about your experience—or lack thereof. With the growing emphasis on company culture and work/life balance, more and more small businesses are willing to take risks on someone who does not necessarily fit the mold. Instead, they value those with creative solutions and a willingness to take on multiple roles.

Changing industries is a big leap for anyone, and most employers understand that. It is also a deeply personal choice in which you have to consider the time, money, and overall fulfillment you would get out of it. But with some planning and strategizing, it is possible to make the leap sideways without going backward.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market