Guest Post by Caroline Schmidt
Have you spent years studying or employed in a certain industry only to find out it’s not for you? Don’t panic. You’re not the only one. With the rate of change in today’s job market, positions we thought would be around forever are ceasing to exist, and new roles are being created every year. With this in mind, many people are reconsidering the direction they want their career to head towards.
How to Sell Your Skills in a New Industry
If you are considering making a career change, don’t be afraid. Changing industries can be overwhelming, especially because it is completely out of your comfort zone. However, many professionals have successfully managed to do this, and you can too!
Commit to the Change
No major decision impacting on your life should be made without being fully committed. Consider why you would like to change fields. Are you unhappy with your employer or your role? Would you be happier in a different role within your industry? Are you willing to take the necessary steps to achieve your dream job?
This could mean further study which may require anything from a short course to a university degree. The level of qualification required will depend on which field and role you are aiming for, so consider if you are able to support yourself financially during this period.
Focus on Transferable Skills
While job expertise is important, every role has skills that can be applied to multiple sectors. A common mistake people make is to deem their prior work experience as irrelevant. Even if you are applying for a role in a different industry, your past work experience is still a valuable point to market yourself with. Write down the skills that relate to the position you are applying for and try to maneuver your image into exactly what the job advertisement is asking for.
For example, perhaps you spent years working as an accountant but suddenly decide you would like to be a teacher. Two completely different roles, right? Wrong. As an accountant, you would have developed the ability to handle high workloads while meeting deadlines, developed strong communication skills (liaising with clients) and increased your capacity to work under pressure. These are skills all employers look for and will consider highly valuable no matter the work setting.
Consider what skills your previous role helped you develop. You will be surprised how transferable they are between many different industries.
Tailor Your Resume
This goes without saying and applies to any job you apply for within your lifetime. Make sure your resume addresses what your potential employer is specifying exactly. It can be useful to prepare a master resume template which details all your work experience, qualifications, and awards, and use it as a source to draw information from. Creating a custom resume for different roles is encouraged, and particularly essential when applying for a role outside of your industry.
You want to be creative with your resume and highlight key roles that are relevant to the industry you are trying to move into. As said before, this does not mean that you omit your previous work experience, but rather present it in a way that appeals to the potential employer and ticks the boxes in their job advertisement.
Sell Your Story
If you do land an interview, lead with your story, not your experience. By this I mean, be honest with your employer about what has brought you to them. Let them know what you found challenging about your past role and what you find appealing about the potential role. Tell them how you intend to be successful in it and how your prior experience, in a different industry, will help you do this. Remember, words on a piece of paper cannot make a bigger impression than you.
Emphasize that you chose to leave your industry for a reason and that you have a strong willingness to succeed in your new field. Employers will appreciate a candidate who can bring a fresh perspective and new set of skills to their company.
Interviews are all about selling yourself, whether you have had ten years of experience in the field or zero. Ultimately, the candidate who can market themselves the best will be the one who succeeds.
A successful career change is a major step outside of your comfort zone and can be daunting for many people. It requires a lot of determination and patience but nonetheless, is a rewarding venture in the end.
Caroline Schmidt writes the blogs for Kangan Institute. She is passionate about TAFE courses, careers, and giving advice to students of all ages.