How to Position Yourself When Changing Industries

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Depending on how large of a jump you need to make, changing industries can involve huge shifts in skill set. Despite that fact, a report by Yahoo! Finance and PARADE magazine found nearly six out of 10 people in the United States would pick a different career. To make that jump, you need to know how to position yourself. You’ll probably have to do some work to acquire new skills, and you’ll also need to figure out how the skills you have translate into the industry you’d like to be working in.

Start by figuring out which skills are most in demand in the industry you’d like to switch to. You may need to gain facility with specific programs and applications. In some cases, you may have to go back to school or take on an internship in order to get the experience you need. Acquiring new skills can be hard work, but it will pay off in the long run.

While you’re acquiring new skills, begin expanding your professional network into your new field. Go to in-person events and reach out online through social sites like LinkedIn. People who have worked for years in the industry you want to join will be able to give you valuable information on how to break into it and where you might fit. Make sure to give back as much as you get, as well.

Finally, get together a portfolio of stories that show how you, as a person, can take on the kinds of challenges faced by the industry you want to join. Many anecdotes about successful industry switchers focus on an impressive background that showed a useful skill or personality trait. A property record researcher might become a project manager at a software company because of the precision required by his previous job. Or a nonprofit worker who faced conflict in Africa while researching HIV might catch the attention of a software giant because of her willingness to confront big problems. Tell your story well, and you might just get the nod.

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