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Trying to transition to a new career? Change industries? Tips on how to make the leap

Nowadays, many professionals face challenges when trying to break into a different industry or professional field, as employers are often hesitant to deviate from their established hiring profiles due to perceived risks and learning curves. However, there are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of securing an interview.

First, as a recruiter myself, I would be remiss if I did not mention that if you are trying to transition into a new type of role or industry, recruiting agencies are NOT the best way to go. Generally, firms hire external recruiters because they are looking for a very specific set of skills and/or experience. Therefore, firms are less likely to consider someone who deviates from the designated job profile if presented by an external recruiter. However, you can still make it happen!

Make your transition clear:

Ensure that your resume clearly states your intention to transition into a specific industry or role. By doing so, you differentiate yourself from generic applicants who apply to any and every opportunity with the same resume and are obviously frowned upon. Highlight relevant keywords for the targeted role or industry to improve your resume's chances of bypassing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

Make your story and path clear:

Explain why you are interested in the chosen industry or role throughout the resume. Merely expressing a general desire to transition to another field in your executive summary is not sufficient. Include your proactive efforts to expand your knowledge about the industry or role. Consider completing online courses related to your new industry or role, such as those offered by platforms like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. Reach out to alumni from your college who work in your desired industry or role for valuable insights and suggestions.

Quantify your achievements:

Include an achievements section on your resume where you can quantify your track record. Some companies and hiring managers are open to considering candidates from peripheral industries if they possess a strong track record. Use numbers to substantiate your accomplishments.

Highlight core competencies in a separate section:

Under the achievements section, create a core competencies section that are shared with your target role. Identify overlapping skills between your previous roles and the new role you are seeking. Emphasize these skills to help recruiters see the relevance and transferability.

Also include overlapping experience in your previous roles:

Whether you are seeking a new type of role or a move to a new industry, there should be transferrable experience from your prior roles. For each of your prior roles, make sure keywords and transferrable skills are given more detail. Help the recruiter and/or hiring manager see the overlap when reviewing your resume.

Review job descriptions:

Carefully review job descriptions of roles that interest you. Note the keywords and specific requirements mentioned in these descriptions, and ensure to the best of your ability that they are incorporated into your resume. For example, if a job description emphasizes experience selling to Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), ensure that relevant sales experience is prominently displayed, despite whether the solution sold and/or the industry is different.

Identify target companies:

Compile a list of companies you are interested in working for. Conduct research to expand your list of potential employers. Set up targeted alerts on job boards to receive updates on relevant openings.

Connect and converse!

Connect with employees of target companies on LinkedIn to expand your network and gain insights. Speak to alumni, friends of friends, go to networking meetings. Create “breezy” emails and intros that ask for their valuable insights about the industry, “picking their brain,” etc. Remember, applying directly through job boards should be your last resort. The more conversations the better.

Practice your response:

Be prepared to answer the question, "Why this industry or role?" Practice articulating your motivations and reasons behind your career transition. Some of your responses may include elaborating on the following:

- The innovative ways companies are leveraging X

- Growth potential, professionally and financially

- Opportunities to follow your passion, further develop a natural talent, etc.

- Positive reviews by contacts you have spoken to in the industry or at a particular company

- Courses you have taken and the conferences you have attended to further your knowledge and network

In conclusion, by implementing these strategies, you can increase your chances of securing an interview. However, remember that preparation, tenacity, and persistence are the essential factors that will ultimately help you achieve your career goal.

Elisa Sheftic is the President and Managing Partner of Right Executive Search, LLC. Her expertise is placing mid- to C-level executives in the Financial Technology (fintech) and Financial Services industries. She communicates with Human Resources, Hiring Managers, and candidates on a daily basis and offers insights to clients and candidates on recruiting best practices. Elisa received her MBA from New York University and completed her HR post-graduate studies at Cornell University.


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