The Career 180: Marketing Yourself Across Industries
So you want a new job, right? Landing a new role might seem hard enough considering all of the competition out there. Do you want a new job in a completely new industry too? If it seems damn near impossible, you might want to give up. After all, this is a waste of time — right? Wrong.
It isn't impossible; in fact, people do a career 180 all of the time. The job market is changing, and people are more accustomed to making bigger changes in an effort to try and figure out what excites them. So when you go to apply for a job in tech and hesitate because you've been working in healthcare for six years, fear not. You can do this — Here's how.
Know what you're good at (and what you LIKE to do)
When I do this type of work with my clients, the first thing that I ask them to do is take a job description from a particular industry that they're interested in and put it up next to their resume. Find the common threads, but also find the gaps (this exercise will also help you prepare for the interview). What are some key strengths that show up on your resume? Whether it's projects you worked on or technical skills you picked up, write them down and note your key strengths and attributes.
It's also important to pay attention to what you like to do in addition to those key strengths. For example, you may be really great at organizing and planning corporate events but actually hate doing it. This is key intel into what types of roles you should not be applying for. What you might find is that you gained a great sense of project management from planning those events, so that's helpful when writing out your list of strengths.
Make sure your skills are transferable
Now that you know what you're good at, it's time to figure out how it all transfers into another industry or role. For this piece, I recommend broadening your skills rather than getting more granular. The idea is to make them transferable, not pigeon hole you.
For example, if you've been working in the healthcare industry and organized your annual conference focusing on a particular topic, talk more generally about leading, executing planning, and your project management experience. These are skills that are needed across industries, not just in healthcare. Make sense?
Use your cover letter wisely
You probably know that I'm not typically a fan of the cover letter. I said it, and there's no going back. The thing is, having been a recruiter for 12+ years, I read a lot of cover letters — and then I didn't. Here's why: Many cover letters are very long and unnecessary. However, when you're making a career change (whether it's industry switch or an actual job), I do find they can be helpful because you can tell your story a bit more than with just a resume. That said, make sure yours isn't a meaningless page of fluff. It should be, at best, a few paragraphs that summarize why you're passionate about the company and industry.
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT start your cover letter with "To Whom it May Concern" — or we just can't be friends anymore.
Network! Tell your friends to get with my friends
So now that you are clear on your strengths and what you like to do, as well as your transferable skills — it's time to get your ass up and network. Start by putting yourself out there to friends and former colleagues. Talk about what you are interested in, and what types of companies you've been looking at or are searching for.
Do your research too. If you're interested in working in tech, do your homework. This way when you meet someone, you don't sound like you have zero idea what you are talking about. You get out what you put in.
Know what your 5-minute commercial looks like
I often talk to my clients about the "5-minute commercial", which simply put is who you are and what you are looking to do, wrapped up in a pretty 5-minute bow. You never know when you'll be in a situation where you will find yourself needing to talk about it, so best to have something prepared. Spend a few moments thinking about what your 5-minute commercial would look like. If you are confused, then it is time to revisit your strengths and interests to get more clarity on what that looks like.
I know that I make this sound easy. Fact is, switching careers and industries takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Things are not going to magically happen without putting in the time and effort to understanding more about yourself. These suggestions serve as a great jumping off point and will help you gain a better understanding of how you can market yourself in any industry and land the job you deserve.