Looking for a change but scared to leave your current industry? Hays’ Alex Shteingardt is here to tell you it’s not only possible, but also wise. Here’s how to do it.
Do you feel that the industry you currently work in is no longer the right one for you? Perhaps you are worried about professionally pigeonholing yourself by staying in the same industry for too long? Are you worried that you’d struggle to move into a new industry after all this time? If so, then read on.
Speaking from personal experience, I believe it is incredibly beneficial to everybody’s career to get as much experience across different industries as possible.
Take myself, for example – I haven’t always worked in the recruitment industry. In fact, before this, I spent years in engineering and, after that, the retail industry.
By moving between different industries, I was able to discover what I was truly passionate about. I also developed a variety of expertise and have built a diverse network along the way.
Drawing from my personal experience, I would like to offer some guidance on how to successfully move into a new industry.
What are you genuinely passionate about?
It’s important to feel engaged in your work. A large part of that engagement comes with working in an industry that you genuinely find exciting and interesting.
So, think about what really sparks your interest, from what you do and don’t find interesting about the industry you currently work in, and those you have worked in in the past; to your hobbies, passions and the causes you care most about.
Factor in topics you enjoyed studying at school or college, and even your favourite genres of book or TV show. For instance, you may have enjoyed IT at school and have since read lots of books about cybercrime, developing your interest further.
Write down any interests that spring to mind, as this will help you build a shortlist of potential industries that are right for you.
How do your passions translate into industries?
Now that you are clear about what you are genuinely passionate about, find out whether the job you are looking for is in high demand in that industry.
For instance, if you are a sales executive who finds cybercrime interesting, conduct some research on the IT security industry and the types of sales roles available.
You should also find out what this industry is like to work in. While there will be variations between every company in these industries, there are often common trends. For instance, the IT security industry is fast-paced and ever-evolving. Does this sound like an environment you would enjoy working in?
Reach out to any contacts you have that currently work in that industry, and ask for their feedback and advice. Attend relevant events within this industry to speculate, and have a look on company review sites such as Glassdoor to see if you can identify any recurring comments.
I would also strongly advise speaking with a recruitment consultant at this stage to get their expert advice. The key is to make sure that your passions translate to the right type of industry, one that offers the right opportunities and environment for you.
Become an industry expert
At this point, you will have narrowed down the type of industry you would ideally like to work in.
Now it’s time to increase your knowledge and start the journey to becoming an industry expert. This will put you in the best stead when it comes to interviewing. Here’s how:
- Follow the leading companies in the industry on social media, and read any relevant content that they share. This will help you expand your knowledge and educate yourself on any key trends you need to be aware of.
- Subscribe to relevant newsletters and follow relevant LinkedIn Pulse channels. This will enable you to stay on top of latest trending content in this new industry on a daily basis.
- Listen to industry podcasts and watch webinars – these are often free and led by industry experts.
- Read industry journals, books and white papers.
- If you are currently unemployed or working part-time, consider taking on temp work, internships or volunteering, in order to gain some real-life exposure.
- Go to talks, seminars and industry events in your spare time to help build on your knowledge and increase your network.
As you follow these tips, you will find that your knowledge and understanding of your chosen industry will start to improve. This knowledge will allow you to sense-check that this new industry is definitely the right choice for you.
Start your tailored job-search strategy
Now that you are more certain of the industry you want to work in, and are becoming an industry expert, it’s time to create a job-search strategy tailored around this new industry.
- Update your CV and any of your online profiles. Add any new skills learned, amend your hobbies and interests section to reflect your enthusiasm for this new industry, and tailor your personal statement to explain why you would like to move into this field, based on your findings so far.
- Register with a recruitment consultant and get a meeting in the diary. They can recommend you for suitable roles, give you some valuable insight into what this company is like to work for and help prepare you for your interview.
- Network both online and offline. You don’t have to spend all day on job sites. Attend industry networking events, connect with any new contacts on LinkedIn and get involved in industry discussions online.
- Manage your own expectations to stay motivated. It may take slightly longer if the competition has a lot of industry experience but you will find the right opportunity if you keep trying.
Consistently doing the above, combined with the standard job-search practices such as looking on job sites for roles in this industry, will further your chances of securing an interview.
Prove your interest in the industry during the interview
And finally, here’s what to do once you eventually get that interview in the diary. The interview is your chance to really shine and demonstrate why this industry is of interest to you.
You’ll have the opportunity to talk about how much you have researched this industry, learned more about what it entails and taken it upon yourself to increase your expertise. But remember, preparation is key.
Ahead of the interview, identify any overlaps between your previous industry and this one, and how your transferable experience could be beneficial to this role.
For example, you may have previously worked in life sciences and are now interviewing for a role in the IT security industry. Both sectors are complex, ever-evolving and unpredictable; therefore, during the interview, demonstrate that you are adaptable and understand the importance of personally keeping on top of trends, reports and news stories in this industry.
Whatever your transferable experience is, be prepared to talk about it, especially when asked questions such as: ‘What relevant experience do you have?’
It is worth pointing out to the interviewer that having come from a different sector, you have a fresh perspective and can bring new ideas to the table.
You should also prepare any questions that you have about this industry in advance. Given that you don’t have much experience, there should be plenty. Asking these questions won’t show weakness on your part, rather a curiosity and passion to learn more, which is something every hiring manager looks for in a candidate.
Remember to listen out for answers during the interview, and bring a notepad so you can write down any more that you think of.
Lastly, let me just reiterate to you that changing industries and getting a range of experience under your belt is a wise move, and will speak volumes about your adaptability as an employee.
Just make sure this new industry truly excites you by doing your due diligence and increasing your expertise in this area.
Once you’re sure that this new industry is right for you, tailor your job search and interview strategy accordingly, showing the powers that be exactly why are right for the job.
Alex Shteingardt is managing director at Hays Russia.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.