In this article for CEOWorld Magazine, Michelle shares six tips on how to change industries.
There’s an industry you’ve always wanted to work in, and you’ve got skills and capability, but your experience is in a different sector. You might think it’s impossible to break into that other industry. It’s not. Whether you’ve identified the industry you want to shift to or are exploring a range of ideas, here are seven tips to get you leaping in the best direction.
- Know your skills
Identify your skills, knowledge, and competencies and then categorize them according to their relevance in another industry. Your expertise can be:
- Transferable – directly applicable in another industry
- Adaptable – useful in another industry but may need to be modified
- Replaceable – likely to be industry or occupation-specific, and therefore not as helpful when leaping to a new industry
- Do your homework
Often we view different industries with ‘rose-tinted’ glasses, finding out later that the reality of the job is quite different and the shift is more complicated than expected. Do your homework and find out what the market is like. Is it growing or contracting? Where are the pitfalls and opportunities? Will you be able to earn enough money? Are there barriers to entry and educational requirements? Seek out connections and find people who work in the field. Meet with them to test the viability and sustainability of your potential career leap and discover what it’s like to work in that field and what it takes to be successful.
- Identify your risk appetite
Examine the risk associated with the career leap across four dimensions: financial, health, relationships, and reputation.
- Financial – consider the financial implications of the move. You may earn less during the transition to your new industry, or if the decision doesn’t work out, there may be a period where you are not making an income or earning enough to cover your expenses. There are also many potential upsides as the career shift may elevate your earning capacity.
- Health – a career change can be stressful for you and those around you, and it becomes worse if the leap isn’t going well. Consider the impacts on your mental health and well-being and your readiness to navigate the ups and downs of a career change.
- Relationships – if your leap isn’t supported by the significant other in your life, deciding to make a career change can strain your relationship. Similarly, staying in a job you hate isn’t good for your relationship.
- Reputation – if your career shift isn’t managed well, you can suffer reputational damage. It can also be a career accelerator when you land that plumb role in the new industry.
All these elements have both an upside and a downside, so examine the risks from both angles. Gathering these insights helps you be realistic about what’s involved in making the shift.
- Specify your trade-offs
Life is a series of choices; taking a specific career direction may require you to give up something else. For example, you may be willing to accept less money initially because the role is a great learning opportunity and provides the stepping stone for your next big career leap. Know what matters to you and the practical realities of your personal circumstances so you can know what you are willing to trade. This analysis makes it easier to identify the industry destination that best meets your needs.
- Upskill your credentials
You may need to pursue additional education or credentials depending on your desired industry. Determine the activities to undertake and what to prioritize. Your learning may include books to read, courses to attend, new people to meet, and new practices to perfect. Detail these elements in your personal development plan that outlines what you will do and by when. You want to be able to track your progress.
- Get active
Your network is critical in helping you move into a new sector. Enlist their support in connecting you with relevant contacts. Remember, in today’s marketplace, first impressions count, not just face-to-face but also online. Your first encounter with a new contact may be online, so you want to build your online presence and manage your network to suit your career leap destination.
Career leaps require focus and patience. It rarely happens by accident. So be deliberate and proactive. Manage your energy, time your exit from your current job, and plan your steps wisely.