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Have you ever thought about changing industries?
I’m not talking about career change here, although that could be part of the deal. No, I’m talking about industry change.
In other words, you are looking at leveraging your current skillset to switch industry instead of starting from scratch.
This is what I’ve done a few years ago and despite warnings from naysayers, it has hugely benefited me.
I think it’s something you owe to consider if you want to make the most of your career.
In this post, I share 7 ways in which changing industries can benefit your career.
Three Types Of Skills
There are three main types of skills you have developed and use in your day-to-day job: industry skills, technical skills and transferable skills.
Understanding what those are is crucial to changing industries successfully.
Your industry skills are mostly knowledge based. They derive from your experience in a given industry.
Don’t underestimate your industry skills, especially as you climb up the career ladder.
Employers are looking for experts in their industry and usually make industry experience a requirement when looking for candidates.
But it is not the be-all and end-all – you technical and transferable skills will open more doors than your industry skills.
Technical skills relate to your chosen career and have been developed through years of learning and experience.
They are practical and relate mainly to how you do your job day-to-day.
For example, as an accountant, my technical skills are things like preparing and analysing financial statements, understanding accounting standards, using business intelligence softwares, data quarry and management etc…
Transferable skills are abilities you have developed that can be used across different roles and industries.
If technical skills are the tip of the iceberg, what you focus on at the start of your career, transferable skills are everything else.
Your transferable skills will open doors and are crucial to step up the career ladder, change industry or change career.
Example of transferable skills are problem solving, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, leadership, adaptability, teamwork, communication, writing etc…
7 Benefits of Changing Industries
The prospect of changing industries can make anyone feel anxious. And for a good reason: conventional wisdom states that you should specialise in a given industry in order to achieve career success.
But although it is the path most travelled, it is not a condition.
Actually, there is a myriad of benefits to changing industries that can boost your career and help you grow as a professional and as a person.
1. Broaden Your Experience
Changing industries will force you to learn about a new market, new clients, new trends, new ways of working.
You will have a fresh perspective on things and the benefit of years of experience in a different industry to apply to your new job.
By changing industries, you become more resilient and make your technical and transferable skills the cornerstones of your career success whilst broadening your experience.
You are sending a strong message to the market: you are adaptable.
This is invaluable to employers.
2. New Opportunities
When you limit yourself to the same industry, you could be missing out on great opportunities.
Perhaps your current employer doesn’t offer good career progression, or maybe your industry is going through a tough time.
Changing industries will open the door to new opportunities in your career if chosen carefully.
It doesn’t necessarily mean following the money (although it could be an incentive) but think about where the latest developments are, where investment is pouring, what is seen as the next ____ (fill the gap).
This is where you want to be.
Do your homework and find the right industry to maximise your career prospects.
3. Stepping Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
Have you become complacent in your industry? Have you “seen it all” and become the go-to expert? Are things a little too easy?
Maybe it’s time to pivot and take control of your career. You’re in the driver seat.
Changing industries will be a shock to the system but a huge leap in your professional development.
4. Find Your Passion
We often end up in a specific industry by default – because that’s where we started our careers and things started to kick off.
Ask yourself – am I passionate about my industry? If not, why not?
Maybe now is the time to try something else.
There is a huge advantage to working in an industry you care about: it actually makes your job interesting!
That being said, finding an industry you’re passionate about doesn’t necessarily mean finding your passion.
For example, I have worked in the music industry and I’m passionate about music. But my true passion at work is to work in a people-based business. I now work in a law firm and although I am not passionate about law, I am passionate about the business model and the people-centric approach within the industry.
What is your industry passion?
The only way to find out is to try it out!
5. Grow Your Network
The thing with changing industries is that you’re not losing your current network – you’re expanding it.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help before, during and after your transition. Learning a new industry takes a while and it’s important to connect with the right people along the way.
Think about the different perspectives you are bringing and how it could benefit people you’re working with.
I’ve changed industry a few times in my career, and each time the people I have met have stayed in my network, evolved and transitioned themselves. A few years later, I’m glad to have such a diverse network: you never know where the next opportunity will come from or who will need your help next.
6. Boost Your Earnings
Of course, one of the benefits of changing industries could be that your salary and benefits increase.
It’s certainly not the number one priority when looking at different industries but it is a good thing to keep in mind regardless.
What I’ve found is that lucrative industries aren’t necessarily the most exciting ones but, from personal experience, exciting industries on paper aren’t necessarily that exciting in real life.
I used to work in the music industry and, as a huge music fan, thought it was a dream come true. The reality was that, despite enjoying free gig tickets and cool parties every now and then, work was still work, and I was massively underpaid.
When I moved over to the professional services industry, my salary jumped significantly and although it didn’t seem as enticing as the music biz, I enjoy this environment a lot more.
7. Return In Style
Making the decision to change industry is not final. You can always decide to move back a few years later.
The advantage however is that you will bring new perspectives to complement your industry skills, and could make yourself invaluable on the job market.
If you feel like a temporary change of industry, look at acquiring new skills you can leverage in the future to ensure you return in style.
There is a lot of pressure out there to specialise in a particular industry, and with it, the fear that changing industries could damage your career.
It’s not that simple.
As you’ve read in this post, there are great benefits to changing industries that could help you leap forward in your career.
Nothing is set in stone, your career path is yours and yours only to make. No one has ever been truly successful by doing what everyone else is doing.
Are you in the right industry? Have you considered making a change, and if so, what is holding you back?
Let me know in the comments, and if you want to discuss this in more detail, feel free to contact me directly.