How to Change Industries to Advance Your Career

If you are among the millions of people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, you may also be in doubt about whether your company – or even your industry – will rebound. It may be time for you to consider whether you should switch your job search to a new, more promising sector. But how do you capture the interest of a prospective employer when you have no experience to incorporate into your resume? What if you’re no longer passionate about the work you’ve done or the industry you’re in? You may have a greater chance of success than you think if you approach your search from a different perspective.

Consider what transferable skills you have.

Take a look at job descriptions in the industry you want to target and identify the skills and qualifications they are they seeking. Visit professional associations and conduct informational interviews to gather additional information about the industry and positions within it. Then identify what you can offer and see how things line up.

“Take a step back and look at your experience, what skills are required to do the various aspects of your job?” advises Hunter Judson, President and CEO of Judson Group. “Compare your skill set to the desired skills for the job you want to see where you line up. Those are your transferable skills.”

Focus on industries that are hiring now. 

If your employer furloughed you or you were already in the midst of a job search when the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., you’ll want to shift gears and focus on those industries and employers that are able to continue to actively hire.  According to the Huffington Post, “industries that are meeting the demands of the pandemic, including retail, delivery, military, taxes, remote learning and health care are actively hiring.”

Look into interim employment. 

Companies are often reluctant to hire a full-time worker in a brand new industry in which the employee has no experience. But they may be much more open to the idea of bringing you on board on an interim or contract basis. Reach out to a company that works with companies offering interim jobs in the field that interests you. Let them know you’re open to any interim or contract work that becomes available. Once you get your foot in the door, you can make connections and start learning the skills that should enable you to find a job in your chosen industry. 

Understand negotiations could be trickier. 

As recently as a few months ago, candidates were in a strong position to negotiate salary and benefits, but that favorable job market has shifted, reports the Washington Post. With less hiring going on and more people in the active job search pool, a greater number of applicants are competing for fewer jobs. Employers may feel that they can get skilled applicants without paying top-tier salaries. “But if you’re realistic,” advises the article, “and do your research on average industry standards for the position in the region and how these industries have fared through the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate fair compensation for everyone involved.”

Despite the uncertainties ahead, this is a good time to think about where you want to be in the future, says Judson. “Think about what you can do now and what you want to do in the future. Think about what you would change to make your next role a more perfect fit,” he says. “Think about the challenge you want to take on, the environment where you want to be, the culture you desire. This is an opportunity to take a step toward a more fulfilling career.”

And remember that you lost your job because of a pandemic beyond your control, not because of a failure on your part. It is critical that you remain confident and recognize your worth.