Forked rail road tracks

How to Successfully Move Between Career Industries

by Felecia Ten Eyck, on October 24, 2017
What do you want to be when you grow up? A question everyone’s been asked while in school.  Have times of old made us believe that we’re to make a career choice early in life and then stick with it until we retire?  What if we’re not sure or start a path and then decide maybe it’s not the right fit? In today’s society, what’s the best approach to figuring out what we want to do in life?
Today’s job market, however, is not like past generations. The average 25 to 34 year old stays at a job for about 2.8 years while 55 to 64 year olds stay a cool 10.1 years (BLS, 2016). With more than a third of America’s job force being Millennials, job or industry hopping is not so much the exception as it’s the new rule of today’s job force (Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data).
Why this change in pace? Partly due to the student debt acquired by Millennials. With an average student debt of over $30,100 (USA Today), low-paying jobs just aren’t covering the bills. This often means switching jobs and industries in order to find the funds.
Further, due to today’s rapidly changing economy, industries come and go and often times people are forced to change in order to stay afloat and current.
So with these factors in mind, what’re the best approaches to looking professional versus being unreliable? After personally working in Healthcare, Education, and now Staffing, I’ve noticed some trends for success—below are a few takeaways to help you take the leap.
Tip #1: Know your strengths and interests.
Do you enjoy helping people? Maybe you prefer to be more behind the scenes and love a good Excel spreadsheet--whatever it is, know your strengths. Many abilities are transferable across a variety of industries.  The key is to know what you like and focus on finding that within a job. Career Builder notes the following as top transferrable skills:
  • Computer Literacy
  • Analytical Skills
  • Presentation Skills
  • Prioritization
  • Communication
Tip #2: Be careful how you hop.
While hopping around may be more acceptable these days (55% of employers say they’ve hired someone they’d label a ‘job hopper”- Career Builder); there’s still a line between it being okay and you showing a lack of commitment. An article from the Harvard Business Review points out that:
Everyone from your mother to your mentor has advice about the best way to switch jobs. But how can you know whom to trust? Especially since what was true in the job market 20 years ago — even two years ago — is not necessarily gospel now.”
So then, what’s the best approach? The best way is to maintain professionalism so as not to burn bridges. Of course, some instance may require you to leave a job abruptly; employers are mainly looking for someone who will commit during their time employed and be honest when outlooks or goals have changed. People are often told not to let your boss know you’re looking for a job until you’ve secured something new. On the flip side, “your boss may want to figure out how to keep you” and offer more flexibility, a raise, or something else to keep you with that company (HBR-2015).
Tip #3: Network, Network, and Network.
It may seem daunting to seek out a job in an industry you’re unfamiliar with—that’s where networking helps. Connect with a friend, go to a networking event, start commenting on industry articles. Let people know you’re interested in x-industry and before you know it, you will have doors opening towards new opportunities.
Tip #4: Research your next move.
New industry means new information, trends, technology, etc… and someone who’s been in that industry previously will have the advantage of knowing all these things longer than you have. An easy way to do this is go online and search e.g., latest trends in x-industry. By researching ahead of time, you can present yourself as relevant and interested in this new venture. Are certifications or certain computer programs important in this new industry? See about taking classes to earn those certificates and learn those programs—this will show your interest and commitment.
Of course, change is not without its hiccups and setbacks. You may have to take a pay cut or go back to school or cut ties with a boss, but remember what you were looking for and keep that in perspective. By keeping these tips and maintaining a sense of flexibility and openness to change, you will increase your odds of knowing how to navigate today’s workforce. Then when you do land the job you’ve been looking for, you’ll be happy and proud of your perseverance.
Felecia Ten Eyck

Felecia is an HR Assistant and Hiring Expert for LandrumHR Staffing Services in Fort Walton Beach.

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