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  • The Challenges and Strategies of Changing Industries

    Career Change photo from ShutterstockChanging Industries

    Do you want to change industries but find that you’re running into a lot of roadblocks? If so, you are not alone.

    A couple of years ago, I had a client who was a PMP certified project manager. He had a lot of project management experience managing IT projects, but he wanted to transition to the healthcare industry.

    I arranged for him to meet the COO of a rapidly-expanding healthcare provider. The COO told him that his credentials were impressive, but he had no healthcare experience. The COO said they really should not care that he had no healthcare experience, but that they would.

    Skill Sets

    Whether you are a project manager, product manager, business analyst, or any other position, you will likely have two sets of skills:

    • Business skills
    • Industry skills

    Which are the most important? Your business skills!

    Which will the hiring authorities care most about? Your industry skills!

    This is why changing industries is so difficult.

    You might be thinking that this is not fair. You are right! You might being saying, “These folks are not any good at interviewing candidates! You would be correct!

    A good project manager should be able to manage any project. A good business analyst should be able to work in any industry. There should be peace on earth and good will towards men! There should be no wars! Well, there I go again. I am using the S word—should.

    Employers today are frequently looking for the purple cow candidate—or a candidate that likely does not exist. They want a candidate that has both business and industry skills. If they have to compromise, most will lean on industry skills.

    Strategies for Changing Industries

    Whether you like it or not, when changing industries, you will need to show that you have some industry experience.

    You will need to study and then demonstrate this expertise. How can you do this?

    • Create a blog and interview people in the target industry. I am going to profile someone who did exactly this on the Career Pivot blog in the coming weeks.
    • Comment on blog posts and social media where you will be seen by others in the target industry. This is a slow, tedious process, and it will take a while to be noticed.
    • Publish LinkedIn Publisher posts on topics related to the target industry. Write about relevant topics that you have researched thoroughly. Make sure you get someone in the target industry to review them before you publish.
    • Attend industry conferences and make sure to interact with individuals from your target companies. Get as much face time with individuals who can either hire you or influence a hiring manager.

    The advantage of writing LinkedIn Publisher posts is they will be seen in your LinkedIn profile. When a recruiter or hiring manager finds your LinkedIn profile, they will see that you have published and, thus, have demonstrated your knowledge of the industry.

    When changing industries, it is a lot easier to develop the industry skills than the business skills. Most companies will focus on industry skills. It is not right, but…

    It all comes down to how do we know that you know your stuff! You will need to demonstrate your expertise in the target industry.

    Marc MillerCareer Pivot

    Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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    Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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