We humans are an inherently fickle lot; something which I believe comes with our boundless curiosity and drive to achieve. Perhaps nowhere is that reflected better than in the number of jobs an individual holds over his or her lifetime, a testament to one’s desire to always do better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average American will hold 12 to 15 jobs over the course of a lifetime, and this number is projected to grow.
However, more difficult than changing a job is changing an industry, and the reasons for doing so can vary wildly from case to case. Maybe you’ve accomplished all you’ve set out to do in your current position. Maybe you’re discontent with your salary and looking to improve your financial situation. In any case, making the switch can be a time consuming and stressful process, and there’s a lot you’ll need to consider before and during the move.
The first thing you’ll have to do is evaluate what you’re looking for in a career and whether the industry that you’re moving to will help you fulfill your goals. It can be difficult to choose a new industry; while certain fields such as tech and healthcare are booming with opportunity, they also present higher barriers to entry. After all, if you lack the necessary background, many companies may dismiss you out of hand.
It’s perhaps a bit of a pessimistic viewpoint, but it’s important to take absolutely everything into consideration when it comes to the big switch. When it comes to industry research, start from the base level and work your way up. What kinds of companies work in this industry? What services do they provide, and to what audiences? Similarly, conduct a bit of research into the industry that you’re currently in; are your current frustrations inherent to your industry, or just the position you’re currently in? Knowing the answer can save you a lot of hassle in the long term. Consider factors such as your boss, your position, and upward mobility.
So, assuming that you’ve done the legwork necessary to ensure that changing industries is the right decision, what now? Well, I hate to break it to you, but more research is necessary, this time into individual employers, their hiring practices, and their company values. From this information, extrapolate ways that you would be an asset to the company. Sure, changing industries may benefit your career, but how does it benefit the business that you’re moving into? Here, your past experience is your biggest weakness and your greatest advantage; you’ll be bringing fresh perspectives anywhere that you’re hired, but you’ll need to prove the you have the skills necessary to make it outside of your field.
Part of this research is endeavoring to immerse yourself in the field as much as possible. Follow industry experts on social media and ask questions if you’re able. Read more books and listen to more podcasts; strive to make yourself a continuous learner. Part of what working on this entails is getting a better picture of what positions are available in the industry and what employers are looking for. Pursue shadowing opportunities if you can and experience first hand an average day at a company that you believe aligns with your goals.
If you network and research with ardor, sooner or later, companies will take notice. Strive to meet industry leaders in person if possible; there are a staggering array of conferences to attend if you’d like to meet people and stay abreast of recent trends and prominent companies. It can be difficult to find a job solely through cold applications; the sooner you start establishing connections, the sooner you’ll start finding leads. Plus, your enthusiasm just might help sway interested companies toward hiring you!
No matter how much preparation you do, it’s a tough transition. However, it’s certainly possible, and past experience can help you bring a unique perspective to your new workplace.