Changing Careers? Here's How to Market Yourself In Any Industry

Changing Careers? Here's How to Market Yourself In Any Industry
Katherine Nobles is one of Career Contessa's mentors. Book a one-on-one session with her to discuss your own career change goals (or anything professional really).
It's bad enough when you hate your job, but what about when you hate your industry? That's where a career change comes in—good thing we've got a technique for that.
According to a recent study by LinkedIn, millennials now go through an average of four job changes before age 32, many changing to entirely new industries as well. While the stigma about frequently switching jobs is dissipating, the ability to stand out among potentially hundreds of other applicants remains a challenge for industry-hoppers. To ensure that you catch the eye of your prospective employer, you’ve got to effectively market your skills.

Know Your Strengths

The first step to marketing your skills is knowing what you have to offer! The more in tune you are with your strengths, the better prepared you are to communicate how you can add value and benefit an organization in a new role.

According to Marcus Buckingham, author of several best-selling books including, Now, Discover Your Strengths, “Strengths are not what you’re good at. Weaknesses are not what you’re bad at.” Instead, strengths are activities that strengthen us while weaknesses are those that weaken us.

These definitions sound obvious enough, but as a society we’ve been taught that strengths are activities that we do well. In reality, we all have activities that we do well but also hate doing. These activities or tasks then become weaknesses, because they drain and weaken us.

Take the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself: What skills do you have to offer, that you also love to use? Once you have a better understanding of what you can (and want) to bring to the table, you’re in a position to share that with employers.

Communicate how your skills Transfer

After reflecting on those strengths of yours, it’s time to demonstrate their value. These strengths have worked well for you throughout your life in different settings (i.e. school, various jobs, your personal life) and are likely to prove valuable to you in a new industry as well. The key here is to think about how these strengths could be applicable in the new industry you aspire to work in.  Write out some quick notes about your experience. For example, perhaps in your role as a marketing associate you:
  • Managed project timelines and kept vendors on schedule
  • Oversaw marketing budget to allocate funds appropriately
  • Measured and analyzed metrics to create future strategy
  • Led team of 3 people
In this example, these tasks involve many transferable skills such as project management, budgeting, data analysis, and leadership. Ask yourself: What transferable skills did I demonstrate in previous roles and how might they benefit me in the new industry?  Remember to focus on those skills that are actually strengths, as you will actually want to continue using them in your career.

Include this information in your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile. These documents provide an opportunity to explain your desire to switch industries and how your strengths transfer. On your resume and LinkedIn profile, include a summary and list of skills. When you describe your previous work experience, draw out the transferable skills as mentioned above. Get recommendations from colleagues and add them to your LinkedIn profile, as they can share more about your work ethic and strengths.

when making a career change, network like crazy

In that same study done by LinkedIn, 90% of people stated that they network while looking for jobs and of those people, 53% said it helped them land their current position. Fact of the matter is, you are much more likely to land a position through personal connections. When switching industries, this becomes all the more important, as professionals within your desired industry can advocate for you. These connections may provide advice, leads to jobs, or even a referral for an open position. Whatever the case, they need to understand your goals and value before offering to help. Be prepared to share this information in networking settings using the following structure:

Where Are You Now In Your Career Path?

What is your current role? Don’t forget to include volunteer work or freelance experience if particularly relevant. These additional side projects or positions outside of work can demonstrate your interest to expand into the new industry.

Where Have You Been?

Hit the highlights here of your past experience. Again, explain those strengths that transfer to the new industry.

Where Are You Going?

Why are you hoping to switch industries? Connect the dots here by explaining how your experience, strengths, and career interests combine to make you a great fit.

- - -

Although the process of transitioning from one industry to another may seem daunting, remember it is possible by effectively marketing yourself. Begin by reflecting on your strengths, communicate how they transfer to a new industry, and network, network, network to make it happen.
* * *
Got more questions about switching industries? Ask us in the comments and we'll answer them for you during our Mentor Mondays on Instagram.