Career Advice: How To Transition Into A New Sector

07 December 2018 By Alastair Cleland

1723 Original

If you’re an experienced professional, you’ll have worked hard in your career: studying for professional qualifications, navigating difficult clients or employees, all the while building your industry knowledge.  But, if you’re like some professionals we speak to, you may feel that you’re increasingly becoming pigeonholed in a sector that doesn’t excite you. If so, perhaps it’s time to switch sectors. 

We’re not talking about career changing here, (think: throwing in the towel as a solicitor to become a UX designer) but applying your well-honed professional skills in a brand-new type of company (think: moving from an HR business partner in a large retailer to a HR business partner in a new age start-up).

Here are some tips if you’re considering the move.

5 Tips to Change Career Direction

01 Gain experience (even if it’s small)

A frustrating stumbling block encountered by people trying to change sectors is that without direct experience in the industry they are applying for, they may fail to even secure an interview, however brilliant their transferable professional skills. Although this can be disheartening, you can increase your chances of getting an interview by proactively securing experience beforehand.

There are many ways to achieve this; shadowing others, doing unpaid or voluntary work, taking a course, or putting your name forward for projects outside of your job role. Even the smallest experience can signify commitment and competency on a CV, and makes a great conversation point at an interview.

02 Be prepared to take a step back

Changing industry is rarely easy, it takes time, patience and hard work. You may have to be prepared to take a temporary cut in salary or responsibility in order to gain experience in the sector of your choice. But if you stick it out, you’ll be rewarded with career fulfilment.

Be openminded when considering new opportunities and recognise that it’s ok if you don’t fall into your dream role straight away.

03 Rewrite your CV to your chosen sector.

Writing a killer CV is essential in any job search, and a CV that’s tailored specifically to your chosen sector may well be the difference between securing an interview or not.

Here, draw on your most relevant experience for the role, include a few lines at the top specific stating your ambition to get into your chosen sector (‘Experienced finance professional seeking role in the travel sector’) and tightly prune your CV to exclude information that isn’t relevant to the role you’re applying for – while keeping chronological continuity of course.

04 Network your way to success

We’ve already written about the importance of networking for career success generally, but it’s especially important if you’re trying to switch sector. Make the most of your personal network; perhaps a friend of a friend or relative can share career advice and insights or introduce you to a company you’d love to work for.

05 Take the leap and commit to it.

Procrastination may be the biggest obstacle of all to job seekers. It’s easy to put off switching sectors and continue in your current role or apply only for jobs that seem more of an obvious fit on paper.

However, if you are keen to escape pigeonholing yourself in an industry that doesn’t excite you, then commit to your goal. Set targets and make an active career plan – outline the steps you need to take to embark upon your new career journey, and commit to taking them.