Many of you are or should be thinking of changing industries. Creative destruction is wreaking havoc on so many industries that if you are not looking – you should be.
I have written multiple posts on the need to be vigilant:
- Living in a “Career Disaster Area” at the Age of 65
- Surviving Creative Destruction in the 2nd Half of Life
- Has Your Job Been SMACed? If not Yet, It Will!
Are you actively looking at changing industries but find that you’re running into a lot of roadblocks? If so, you are not alone.
Several years ago, I had a client who was a PMP certified project manager. He had a lot of project management experience managing IT projects, but he wanted to transition to the healthcare industry.
I arranged for him to meet the COO of a rapidly-expanding healthcare provider. The COO told him that his credentials were impressive, but he had no healthcare experience. The COO said they really should not care that he had no healthcare experience, but … they will.
Whether you are a project manager, product manager, business analyst, or any other position, you will likely have two sets of skills:
- Business skills
- Industry skills
Which is the most important? Your business skills!
Which will the hiring authorities care most about? Your industry skills!
This why changing industries is so difficult.
If you think that this is not fair then you are right! You might be saying, “These folks are not any good at interviewing candidates” and you would be correct!
A good project manager should be able to manage any project. A good business analyst should be able to work in any industry. There should be peace on earth and goodwill towards men! There should be no wars! Well, there I go again. I am using the “S” word—”should.”
Employers today are frequently looking for the purple cow candidate—or a candidate that likely does not exist. They want a candidate that has both business and industry skills. If they have to compromise, most will lean on industry skills.
Strategies for Changing Industries
Whether you like it or not, when changing industries, you will need to show that you have some industry experience. If you have no industry experience you will have to demonstrate that your current industry maps to new or adjacent industries.
Let me give you some examples:
Create a Blog and Interview People in the Target Industry.
In 2015, I told the story of Daniel Elizalde. Daniel wanted to make the shift to the Smart Grid industry. He created a blog where he published monthly interviews with experts in the smart grid industry. Daniel very methodically interviewed experts that he could learn from, and after 18 months he found he had developed some “street cred”. Managers at companies that were on Daniel’s target list of companies were reading his blog and were now willing to talk with him about future opportunities.
Check out Daniel’s story in the post Changing Industries to Smart Grid.
Rebrand Yourself via a Blog, Videos, and Whitepapers
This is what Alexander Buschek did when he wanted to become a digital transformation thought leader. Alexander created the Digital Transformation Blog to demonstrate that he knew his stuff. He wrote the whitepaper Your Existing IT Strategy Won’t Work Why SMBs have to rethink their IT strategy and embrace Digital Transformation and published it on his blog.
He then spent much of the holiday season in late 2016, creating videos around all of the facets of digital transformation. Alexander had a lot of fun doing this but I suspect he drove his wife a bit crazy creating a mini-video studio in their house.
The blog, videos, and whitepapers clearly demonstrated his expertise and from that came numerous opportunities to speak at industry conferences. A good example of this was his Speech at IIoT Talk Conference in Berlin.
From the blog, Alexander was able to move from being a CIO for a valve manufacturer in the oil and gas industry to being a CIO at a high-tech hardware company where he will be able to implement digital transformation strategies. Look for Alexander’s story on the Repurpose Your Career Podcast in early April of 2018.
Publish LinkedIn Publisher Posts on Topics Related to the Target Industry
Write about relevant topics that you have researched thoroughly. Make sure you get someone in the target industry to review them before you publish.
The advantage of writing LinkedIn Publisher posts is they will be seen on your LinkedIn profile. When a recruiter or hiring manager find your LinkedIn profile, they will see that you have published and, thus, have demonstrated your knowledge of the industry.
Other Options to Build Credibility
When changing industries you can demonstrate expertise by commenting on blog posts and social media where you will be seen by others in the target industry. Make sure and target individuals that could be good connectors to the companies on your target list. This is a slow, tedious process, and it will take a while to be noticed.
I would also suggest that you attend industry conferences and make sure to interact with individuals from your target companies. Get as much face time with individuals who can either help you get to the next step. This was part of Alexander Buschek’s strategy to rebrand himself as a Digital Transformation thought leader. Alexander was able to meet executives at numerous companies that allowed him to get both speaking engagements at industry events and introductions to hiring managers at target companies.
Demonstrate Your Industry Expertise on Platforms You Control
When changing industries, you will need to demonstrate your industry expertise. You may notice that the concrete examples I gave you were from individuals who created their own platforms that they controlled. You can do demonstrate your expertise on platforms like LinkedIn or Medium but you do not own these platforms and therefore, they can change overnight outside of your control.
You need to plan on demonstrating your industry expertise if you are changing industries.
Do this before your existing industry goes away!