Switching sectors may be just what you need to boost your career
Transitioning to another job sector requires preparation
Are you thinking about switching career sectors? According to an October 2019 survey from Indeed, you’re not alone: 49% of the U.S. workers surveyed had made significant career moves from one industry to another. In fact, statistics suggest that the average worker will change jobs five to seven times during their working life.
The ability to transfer skills and knowledge from one industry to another is not only becoming commonplace, it can actually be good for you and your career. For example, let’s say you’re a whiz at numbers and you’ve made a name for yourself after years of working in corporate finance. But, lately, you’ve been feeling disengaged and found yourself daydreaming about working in a field that matters to you. While transferring your financial prowess to a job at another organization (that is more in-line with your values) may not pay as much as your corporate gig (or it might pay more), consider one of the perks: a renewed sense of joy for your work.
No matter your area of expertise—finance, leadership, tech, graphic design, etc.—or whether you’re switching from corporate to nonprofit, small business, or another type of organization, transitioning to another job sector requires preparation. The following are some tips to get you started.
Analyze your motivations
First, before any career move, it’s wise to think deeply about why you want to make a change so that you’re not choosing another job you’ll be unhappy at. Because career moves are so prevalent nowadays, a multitude of online articles address the question of motivation, and career-change workshops can even help walk you through the process.
Expand your network
You may have spent years in one industry establishing relationships, so once you’ve targeted a new sector, learn as much about it as you can. Schedule an informational interview, register for networking events, and reach out to people on LinkedIn who work in the field you want to join. You might even volunteer for a few days to get a feel for the culture. You should start by discovering opportunities and challenges and by getting excited about the coming change.
Shift your strategy
You’ll need to start thinking differently about your new career field, how it operates, and what you can bring to it. This is where research comes in handy. For example, research how your leadership experience, technical knowledge and skillset help guide the vision, mission and programs of your desired organization.
Inventory your skills
Consider the skills that can be transferred to your new sector and those which you are lacking. For instance, small businesses and nonprofits operate differently than large corporations. Will you need to change the way you approach the bottom line? If so, learn the budget models, operational planning and resource allocation needed in your new sector. Apply this thinking no matter what your area of expertise is, and if you find that you need to enhance existing knowledge or update the tools in your toolbox, consider how to do so. Your options to do so range from career-focused classes to new credentials.
Fall back on your motivation
Embrace the challenges that may come with new work in a new field and remember that you chose to switch fields because you wanted to be an integral part of an organization with a mission that matters to you. If you ever feel lost, return to your motives for changing sectors and remember them if you meet resistance.
A word about employers: With so many career choices available, employers expect workers to change jobs more often than they once did. They recognize that a major career move requires adaptability and initiative—two traits valued by over 60% of employers, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Finally, going back to the Indeed survey, of those who changed careers, 88% reported being happier since they made their move. They like feeling valued, having more opportunities for growth and learning, and stress the importance of workplace culture.
Happy workers, happy employers— sounds like a win-win for everyone.
(This sponsored content was provided by University College and the Center for Professional Development at the University of Denver.)