Feb 6 2012
There is the adage that the average person will change careers several times in his or her lifetime. Depending on where you get your information, the actual number of changes fluctuates between as little as three and as many as ten, but the message is the same, people do change industries and they do it successfully. Here are three important steps to take when planning and executing a career transition:
Self-reflection and evaluation are a very important part of the whole transition process. You need to know where you are going and how you’re going to get there before you can be on your way. You have three options to consider: stay where you are and try to maintain your employment; consider a move to an aligned industry (like moving from finance to insurance), or change direction altogether and move into a different industry.
If you decide that an industry change is what you really want, you need to do it in a way that transfers as many of your skills as possible. You can do this by determining your most important skills, your most marketable ones, and the ones you enjoy the most--you will use all of these to rebrand yourself. The next thing you should do is to identify your career values, know how much compensation you need versus how much you want, and research and select your preferred geographies.
Once you have determined your skills, pull the labels off of them. Don’t think about them in terms of the position you are in now, but instead, the position you want to be in. Research keywords in targeted industries and map them to your skillset. Reword your skills to match your new industry and then use this new language in your resume/CV, the resume you upload to your BlueSteps profile, LinkedIn profile, and in your interview responses.
Your career transition story should be an important part of your overall strategy--this will tell employers why you are making this move, what it means to you and where you want to go. First, you should map your career in your new industry, identifying target titles and career progression. Then use this information along with your career values, transferable skills, and your brand to craft an engaging transition story. This will be used in your cover letter, elevator pitch, and during interviews.
In order to execute your strategy successfully, building a network outside of your current industry is key. Your goal is to grow your network in four directions: via LinkedIn Groups, Companies, Recruiters, and Industries. You should do this in a strategic manner, identifying target companies, joining a mix of groups on LinkedIn, connecting with search consultants you carefully pinpoint through the BlueSteps search firm directory, and researching both aligned and non-aligned industries.
Use job boards sparingly if at all, they rarely work well especially at executive level, use the BlueSteps database to identify recruiters in aligned industries and do not overlook your non-industry contacts, they will prove much more useful in a job search outside your current sector.
If you would like to find out more about orchestrating a successful industry transition download our webinar recording Transitioning into a New Industry presented by Cheryl Simpson.
This article was written by Sarah Wright, Marketing Assistant at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).
BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in more than 75 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.