Tips for Pivoting Professionally: breaking into a new industry
There's been a lot of information about the need to pivot during COVID-19. Many businesses have switched what they produced or altered their services to fit the new demands of their audience. But sometimes it's not your business that needs to pivot. it might be something you've been thinking about doing professionally.
If you want to switch industries and you have little to no experience, here are some tips that can help you pivot professionally.
6 Tips to Landing a Job Without Direct Experience
- Consult your chamber. Few people know as many employees in your desired industry then the chamber staff. Let them know the types of people you want to meet and they can likely make the professional introduction for you. Even if these introductions just serve to answer your questions about the industry you're looking to move into, that still can be valuable.
- Seek out the industry association. If there's an association for the industry you want to move into—and there always is—look at their website. They likely have content that can help you understand the requirements and skills necessary for succeeding in the industry. Next, pick up the phone and talk to someone at that association. They, too, may be able to make introductions.
- Refresh your skills. Are there skills in your new industry that you need to add to your resume? If so, seek out resources such as online courses, webinars, books, ebooks, etc. Do the preliminary research to find out what is required. Use free resources first to make sure you're interested in the industry. Once you're ready to commit, look for paid resources on things like certification. If you just need to add certain skills to your resume a lot of that can be done through online learning and at minimal cost. If you don't know what skills are required, take a look at job postings in your preferred industry. What do all the positions ask for? What do they have in common?
- Draw correlations. You may not have the direct experience on your resume in the industry that employers will want to see but you may be able to draw correlations between your existing experience and what they're looking for in your cover letter. There are some skills that are universal and valued across all industries. These skills include things like customer service, attention to detail, problem solving, and creativity. Give examples of these skills and explain how they could be valuable in the position you're applying for as well.
- Look for information, not (just) jobs. If you want to make the switch to a new industry that you have no background in, don't immediately ask people for a job. That's an easy “no” on their end. Instead, ask them for information. Maybe they would be willing to discuss the industry in general, the current trends, or the future as they see it. Show an interest in what they're sharing with you. When you ask them for information, don't ask the simple kinds of questions that you could answer with a quick search on the Internet. Instead, speak to them as if they are a thought leader in their industry and they will respond accordingly. At the end of the informational interview, ask them what they believe is a good next step for you. Then follow their suggestion.
- Volunteer. Before making the switch into an industry, try volunteering or shadowing someone in your ideal position. This can help you make a more educated decision about whether that industry is for you.
If you've been considering a career change, there are tons of resources out there to help. Think of each step that you take toward your new career as a chain link that leads to another. Ask smart questions and participate in conversations in the industry. This will help you get to know people and make the connections you need to be successful in your own personal pivot.
Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.
Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.