Career advice for those considering moving to a new industry
Changing career and finding a new role in a different industry can appear to be very difficult, given the talent pool you may be competing against with more relevant industry experience. However, there are ways you can make yourself stand out from the competition:
Network, network, network
It's been said many times, but most vacancies aren't advertised in traditional ways, and are instead filled by, or created for individuals already known to an organisation. As well as trying the usual job application routes, try speaking to people you know, see who they know and what opportunities there are in their organisations that aren't even official yet. If you can speak to the hirer or key influencer before the vacancy has been finalised, this will give you a very good head-start in the recruitment process. A specialist recruitment consultancy like REED should also be able to do this on your behalf.
Research your desired industry
If you want to shift careers and work in a specific industry, you probably already know a thing or two about it, but you need to appear very knowledgeable, or at the very least interested, in an interview. Read through industry publications, and make notes on what areas of these may impact your specific role within that industry. Follow up any stories that are particularly interesting, and be prepared to talk about these. Also take time to speak to people who work in that industry – maybe take someone out to lunch to really pick their brains about how it works and why, what the key priorities and pressures are. If you can learn any particular jargon or lingo from them, this will also show to a potential employer that you'll be able to hit the ground running.
If the reason you're looking to move is related to boredom in your current role, consider moves within your current organisation, which may then make it easier to transfer out at a later date. If you are in an "operational" role, which could be very specific to your industry, consider moves to the compliance or learning and development teams, for example, where your specialist knowledge will be useful, but where you will also learn a new set of transferable skills which could be very useful to a new employer in the future. Speak to your HR team to discuss your options.
Highlight your skills
When tailoring your CV or application, make sure you highlight your key strengths – what will you be better at than anyone else? You may not have everything the employer is looking for, but if you can put ticks in almost all the boxes, you will certainly be worth considering. Ensure you label your skills clearly in relation to your desired industry, using any language or terminology they will understand. If possible, structure it in such a way that the role you are applying for is the clear next step up in your career, and refer to this in your covering letter.
A winning covering letter
When writing your covering letter, make your lack of experience in that industry work in your favour. Try to target organisations who are a bit more forward-thinking in their approach to business, as they are more likely to be open to new ideas. By coming from a different industry you bring a completely fresh perspective on the challenges they face, while being able to apply some best practices used in the industry you have worked in. You will be excited by the new opportunity, and keen to learn and develop, unlike other candidates who may be somewhat jaded by the industry or stuck in their ways. The covering letter is your opportunity to show your desire to work in that organisation, so make sure this comes across.
For more advice on progressing in your career have a look at these articles:
Or explore the full range of articles in our career advice section here.