How to Navigate a Career Change to a New Industry

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It is not unusual to feel a little trapped in the industry you’re currently employed in. You might experience this if you’ve worked your way up from an entry-level position. You’ve learned your core skills in the context of this particular sector. There will be professionals around you spending their entire careers in the industry. This gives you little inspiration or guidance to make a breakaway. It’s a difficult situation to find yourself in.

Yet, you’re likely to have more agency over this than you may think. Remember, the employment landscape is a rich and changing environment. Businesses are looking for talented professionals. They want people who can offer not just hard skills but new perspectives. Though it’s important to recognize an industry shift can be a challenging process.

We’re going to explore some of the important considerations that can help you successfully navigate a career change in a new industry. 

Identify Transferable Skills

How you think about your skills can be a hurdle to taking the plunge in a new industry. This doesn’t mean you don’t feel you have a significant amount to offer. Rather, you may not be clear on how your skills are relevant across industries.  As such, it’s important to take some time looking at which of your skills are transferable. This highlights which may be attractive to other sectors. Then you can direct your well-honed abilities to a job you might love.  

Write down a full list of your skills. This can both be useful for your search and a boost to your self-worth. Start with transferable technical skills. Do you have coding abilities that are valuable in our digital landscape? Do you have personnel training qualifications? You should also pay attention to your soft skills. Leadership experience and people skills are priorities for employers in most industries. 

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You can then start to match your transferable skills with the industries in which they’re most in demand. You’ll find some offer you a wider range of career gateways than others. For instance, professionals with accounting skills are seeing a rising demand across most sectors. Our current economic conditions are challenging. Not to mention that an aging workforce is forcing turnover. These elements have been instrumental in creating a continued need for finance skill sets. If you can maintain books and audit finances, you may be a valuable asset. Many sectors are also targeting cybersecurity skills. Commit to just a few hours of online research around your skill sets. You’ll find this may reveal exciting possibilities you haven’t considered.  

Refine Your Profile

Whatever your reasons for looking for a new career, you must think about how you represent yourself. Your current professional profile may not match what employers in new industries are looking for. Indeed, many recruiters use applicant tracking systems (ATS). Your current resume content may not match the skills keywords they’re searching for. You don’t want your application or LinkedIn account to fall through the net. As such, you need to refine your profile for the job you want, not the one you have.   

This can be difficult to achieve when you don’t have any experience in the specific field you want to enter. You should create tailored job applications designed to have an immediate impact on recruiters. Your efforts need to go beyond a list of previous jobs. Rather, you need to focus on gathering documents to show you can be an asset in this new industry. You might want to include a portfolio of relevant projects. Make sure these demonstrate the in-demand skills and thought processes you applied. Consider gaining some new references, too. This might not be your past employer but could include the leads of any community projects you were a part of. Seek help from people who may be able to talk about your more advanced and transferable skills. 

Prepare for Discomfort

You might have become comfortable in familiar surroundings and processes over the years. Shifting your focus to a new sector can mean these elements get shaken up. As such, it’s important to make preparations for the potential discomfort you could face. 

The need to relocate may be among the most challenging aspects. Some industries have their hubs in specific cities. Seattle is home to the tech industry and Los Angeles is the center of entertainment. If you need to follow your new career to an unfamiliar area, it’s worth taking the initiative to plan. Put together a checklist of essentials for your move to make certain you don’t miss anything. It can also reduce the stress of the situation. Start creating this document early on in your process. Cover everything from disposing of items you no longer need to informing people of your new address. In some cases, your new employer may assist you with moving expenses. So, reach out to make inquiries about this first. 


There may be other uncomfortable shifts beyond relocation. The move to remote operations is one of the most common at the moment. More businesses have adopted this approach as of late. One survey found 32% of the businesses they polled stated they’d be increasing the level of remote work in their organizations. The move to this can be challenging if it isn’t a feature in your current sector. You should make certain you have a place at home where you can be not just comfortable but productive. If possible, create a home office space so you can separate your job from your personal life. You should also put in place routines to make sure you get enough exercise and fresh air throughout the day.


A shift to a new industry can be an exciting prospect, but it’s not always easy to navigate. Review your transferable skills so you can pinpoint the most relevant sectors. Remember to adjust your application approach. Make certain this reflects the needs of the jobs you’re targeting. With a little preparation, you can also mitigate any discomfort you experience during the change. You have talents that are valuable to a variety of employers; take the time to explore your options.

This guest post was authored by Ainsley Lawrence

Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about how business and professionalism intersect with the personal, social, and technological needs of today. She is frequently lost in a good book.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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