Checklist: Changing Industries and Changing Careers

Checklist of tactical steps to maximize the chances that you will be able to find a new job in a new industry.


Parse your resume.
Make sure your skills are transferable to the new industry.

Compare your accomplishments and skills to someone in a similar job who has been working in the industry you’re targeting. That will give you a better read on your chances and help you figure out how to position yourself against incumbents, said Robert Hawthorne, president of search firm Hawthorne Research.

“Look at other people’s resumes and see how they describe their experience,” said Isabel Walcott, a marketing consultant who specializes in Internet strategies. “Sometimes the job is exactly the same, but they call it something different; it might be a ‘content management system’ in one industry and ‘publishing software’ somewhere else. Find people who are in the kind of job you want and link up with them on social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook and ask for their advice.”

Be convincing, even if no one wants to listen.
Get ahead of recruiters and hiring managers who only want to consider candidates with industry experience. Make it clear that your experience outweighs your lack of tenure in a specific field, said Michael Neece, chief strategy officer of PongoResume, an automated resume-writing service. Spell out for them how your experience translates to common themes in the new industry, and explain it in terms of the results you were able to deliver in your previous field.

Learn the lingo.
Minimize the impression that you’re a fish out of water by reading industry blogs and using the same terms or jargon as others in the new industry, Palmer said. It may be shallow, but it will give the hiring managers or recruiters enough confidence to keep talking to you to find out how much you really know, rather than dismissing you at the outset.

Be willing to take a step back.
Your career may have been stellar, but even your most transferrable skills might not be as useful in a new industry as in the old, said Clark Chrinstensen, a career-long industry switcher who is currently chief financial officer of Atlanta-based PS Energy Group. Don’t give away all your seniority just to get a foot in the door, but don’t insist on a promotion and a pay raise, either, he said.

Network – online and in person.
Connect with other people and use what you learn from people inside your target industry to shape your own presentation, Internet strategist Walcott advised.