Here’s a shocking statistic: 59 percent of Americans would choose a different career if given the chance to do it all over again. Although these professionals may be able to move horizontally in their current organization, oftentimes a complete industry switch is necessary.
When you find yourself in the position of job seeking in an industry you’re not familiar with, it’s important to take some alternative routes. Here are some valuable steps to keep in mind.
1. Figure Out The Skills You Need
Your new industry may require certain skills you don’t have. For instance, a design position may involve understanding various applications or programs. So, although your extensive marketing background is impressive, it may not be enough to land you a job.
Tip: Do your research and understand what skills you need to succeed in a different job. Look at what your desired position may require and ask yourself if you have the necessary skillset to do well. This may mean going back to school or taking an internship. However, if switching careers is your goal, doing the extra legwork is necessary.
2. Talk To Industry Members
No one knows an industry better than those who’ve been working in it for years. Although it may be intimidating to reach out to these seasoned professionals, they could provide you with the inside knowledge you need in order to move forward in a new job.
Tip: Go to in-person networking events or reach out to professionals online through LinkedIn. Not only will you receive real insight, you may also create a connection which can help you in the future. Just don’t make it all about you! Let them know how you can provide value as well.
3. Switch Up Your Professional Materials
Your professional materials, such as your cover letter and your resume, reflect who you are as a worker. If they don’t meet industry standards, or if they showcase your skillset in a different industry, you more than likely will be put in the “no” pile and not be considered for the job at all.
Tip: Check out some industry forums online and understand what your professional materials should look like. Some industries may require bringing a full portfolio; others may need a five-page resume. It all depends on the profession and what the typical standard is. You may also want to ask new industry connections if they could go over your materials to gauge what’s good and what needs to be worked on.
4. Amplify Your Social Networks
Job seekers, take note: 92 percent of employers are using social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for recruiting purposes. So, although you may not be actively tweeting industry news now, you should start. Your online image is just as important as your offline one and your social networks can give recruiters the insight they need into who you are as a candidate — without having to meet you in-person first.
Tip: When you’re job seeking, you should keep tabs on your online reputation. Google yourself and see what information is out there. Then, delete any questionable materials, enable some basic privacy settings, and be sure to always keep your content up-to-date. Communicate your interest in the industry by posting relevant content, like recent news or opinions. That way, a potential employer can see your enthusiasm, even if you’re new to the industry.
5. Apply With Industry Standards In Mind
Some industries prefer you apply through basic applicant tracking systems (ATS). Others recruit at job fairs or through speedy interviewers. Some would be partial to those who applied through their social networks. No matter the process, be sure you understand the optimal application process.
Tip: There’s nothing wrong with using some tricks to get noticed. For instance, an ATS typically screens resumes and cover letters for important keywords listed in the job description. Showing up early to a networking fair can help you to avoid the crowd and connect with the recruiter. Linking all your professional content on your social networks can save a recruiter time. These tactics can help you to get to the top of the pile, instead of being just another applicant.
Job seeking outside of your industry can be tricky. However, in the end, it’s all about using every opportunity to your advantage… even if you don’t have a ton of experience. The work you put into getting the job will likely make up for it.