11 Tips for Switching Industries in your Career

Do you hate working in the industry that employs you now? Sometimes people get stuck in a rut and begin to loathe their current industry. We asked our network to tell us how they would switch industries. They came back with eleven ways to make your switch easier and faster.

1. Have equivalent experience. This might sound stupid, but at the end of the day if you photocopying a document, you can do that working for your local bakery or at Microsoft. The same goes for any skill.

2. Focus on relationship building and not the relationships. If you’re moving into a new industry, you simply don’t have the established contacts to be effective in your new role. Your ability to craft those relationships is the valuable component.

3. Study up. Be as prepared as you can be. Learn as much as you can about your new industry. The School of Hard Knocks is tough. It’s better to learn from somebody’s mistakes rather than your own. Ask for advice, tips and tricks from those who have worked in your new industry.

Submitted by Pierre-Renaud Tremblay, Director of Human Resources at Dupray.

4. Leverage your transferrable skills. Despite the fact that you're switching careers, many of the skills you've developed in your current job will be useful across industries. Put some thought into how you can leverage these skills to position yourself well by applying new thinking or quickly gaining necessary proficiencies in a new field. Don't forget about soft skills — like leadership, communication, and teamwork — which are often just as important as hard skills and are applicable across industries.

5. Use your network. When searching for new work, be sure to take advantage of your current network for introductions to and connections with recruiters and decision makers in your field of choice. Your current contacts are likely to have surprising connections across industries and will likely be more than happy to help you in your job search. Use professional social networks like LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and ask for warm introductions to the people who matter.

6. Find a mentor. When transitioning to a new industry, it can often be difficult to reconstruct a network of colleagues and friends who will support you in your new role.. Network actively, and establish sincere personal connections with your new colleagues. Mentoring opportunities, particularly within a field with which you're unfamiliar, can be invaluable.

Submitted by Sam McIntire founder of Deskbright an online learning platform.

7. Clear, concise and confident communication will help you land a job even if it's in an entirely new industry.  Be prepared to proactively discuss how your background uniquely lends itself to success in the new role.  Highlight how your expertise in a specific function is transferable to their industry.  Do your homework - know what you uniquely bring to the table, what new perspective you have the capacity to share, and what challenges you will help them solve. 

Submitted by Lori Scherwin, Founder of Strategize That

8. Become an apprentice. If you decide to shift the direction of your career and don't have demonstrated bench strength, offer to work for free as an apprentice or intern.  Whether you want to become a baker or portfolio manager, free help is always welcome.  But even volunteering requires you to have a logical story to justify why you are willing to work for free and how your "employer" will stand to benefit.  Remember, when you volunteer in an area or function that is new to you, they are investing time and attention to get you up to speed.

9. Be clear on what you want to do.  Assessment is critical.  Ask yourself the following questions.  What do I want AND why?  What qualifies me?  What steps do I need to take to get from my current situation to the job I want?

10. Have realistic goals. Given your age, education, and experience, is this a goal that is possible to achieve?  Don't limit yourself but don't set yourself up for failure and disappointment.  What are the barriers to entry?  Are you willing to invest the time, money, and energy required to make the shift?

11. Passion, energy, focus, and determination are essential to make a career change especially one that is a stretch and in a market where there the supply of qualified candidates are still many more candidates for the best opportunities.  Are you prepared to face the rejection that is inevitable in job search and not take it personally?

Submitted by Roy Cohen, career coach and author, The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.