Turning a job transition into a career building move – Part 2 : Changing Industry

Changing industries
Photo credit Createsima on FreeImages

In my last post, I explored transitioning from one organisation to another. Many of us(myself included) shift industries as part of our career journeys. Everyone has different reasons for doing this. Some do it in order to follow a passion while others do it for involuntary reasons like layoffs. A lot of people also transition from a job to starting a business and vice-versa. Changing an industry in your career requires being open to both learning and unlearning.

Challenges of Changing Industry

  1. Your network may be limited: Your past network may have been very strong but not all of those contacts will be as relevant to your new work and domain. Since a strong network plays a big role in building your career this may be a cause of worry when you are changing industry.
  2. Your knowledge may be limited: If you experience is primarily in the domain you are exiting then, your knowledge of the new domain may be limited. If you are starting a new business then, the whole process of starting a business may feel unclear and ambiguous.
  3. Fear of the unknown: Stepping into unfamiliar territory can be daunting especially when you are coming from a place you know well. Whenever we step out of our comfort zone it is natural to feel some level of fear.

For the industry/company you are leaving

Close loop all engagement: Ensure that your transition out is amicable and all open items are closed out. Even if you are part of a layoff do what it takes to leave the work in a dignified and composed manner. If you are excited to start your new venture, do not disregard the responsibilities that you are handing over.

Maintain relationships: Meet and let people know where you are moving and what you will be doing now. Ensure that you thank everyone you have a reason to and if needed mend bridges where there may be issues. Even if you feel that these relationships are not relevant in your new profession, do not take them for granted. Eve if you are changing industry these same people may still be able to use your services some day.

Referrals: Get permission from a few relevant people to pass on their name for referral checks and recommendations. If required have them write you a recommendation over email or on LinkedIn.

For the industry you are joining:

Adopt a learner mindset: Approach your new work with the mindset of enquiry and curiosity. Allow yourself the time to absorb the new environment and learnings. Accept that it is okay to not know everything and focus on understanding and exploring. Also know that since you are looking at this business from an outsider’s eyes, you have the power to bring in a fresh and new perspective.

Understand your strengths and leverage your experience: Look back on your past experience, in all your previous roles and capture your learnings. Make a list of all your strengths and competencies. In times when you feel lost it helps to know your strengths. It may also be a good idea to do a SWOT to get a deeper understanding of the strengths that you can leverage against the new opportunities.

Set realistic goals: Set goals for your next 30-60-90 days in terms of what you should have achieved interns of your learning, understanding the new business and outcomes. Ensure that the goals are practical and don’t overwhelm you.

Invest in your development: If the new role requires additional skills, invest time and money to attain those. This will help you scale up into your new role and make better choices as well

Find a coach and/or a mentor: If the ambiguity is too high it may help you to have a coach to support you in thinking clearly and formulating your plan. If there is a huge learning gap between your current skill set and what is needed, find a mentor.

In the next post we will explore moving from one role to another with the same organization.

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