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4 Tips for Professionals Looking to Switch Industries

February 29, 2016 By Matt Krumrie | Write Comment

goldfish jumptonewbowl resize cropWorkers and job seekers have always had to adapt to changes in technology and other barriers. Change is inevitable, says Paul Fornelli, an award-winning sales, sales management and sales training professional. He is the author of Sales Readiness: A Template for Success and has over 20 years of sales experience in B2B wholesale mortgage banking, PEO, capital medical sales, and enterprise-level medical device information systems and integration software for health care organizations.

However, the introduction of BIG DATA, analytics and algorithms as a means of recruiting and acquiring people and job applicants has radically altered the landscape in ways no one could have foreseen.

This change is detrimental to even the most adaptable workforce, and that is especially true for anyone trying to crossover into a new industry.

“Companies no longer hire the person and train for the skill,” says Fornelli. “They look only at the hard-skill keywords and ignore the individual worker’s soft-skill applicability and relevance.”

There is a way to help you challenge modern day assumptions. It all starts with buying into the concept of transferable relevance. It is the idea that one’s existing set of skills (hard or soft) in one industry can be used just as efficiently and effectively in a separate industry. You have to believe it – or none of the following four suggestions will matter.

If you are an experienced professional looking to switch industries, consider these tips and advice from Fornelli:

  1. If you want to make a successful crossover into a new industry–be willing to do the things other job seekers won’t do.

Don’t wing it – treat the process like the competition that it is.  Participation trophies and second place don’t count. Be prepared, be precise, be pro-active, and be deliberate.

Be prepared by starting on the inside. You have to know who you are, what you want, and why you want it before you can even begin. Start by reverse engineering the elements of your existing experience. Be precise in evaluating a very specific industry, company, and role that you covet. Be pro-active and be deliberate by going direct to the hiring source. Don’t rely on submitting resumes and cover letters through online job boards. Without any direct experience, you can’t afford to be passive. Nobody is looking for you. Treat the process as if it were the biggest opportunity of your life- because it is.

  1. Assume an employer will believe you aren’t qualified; therefore, the burden is on you to prove you are.

 Without the keys needed to unlock the gates of the secret code-based algorithms, the system is pre-programmed to see you as unqualified, undervalued, and unworthy of an opportunity. Don’t waste your time blindly sending out your resume.

You will have to make your case by going direct. You have to understand that risk mitigation is the key. Make it easy on them—present yourself as a subject matter expert, and demonstrate that you have the ability to be ready to go on day one. 

  1. Get creative about relating your relevance. Relevant experience can come from unexpected places.

Regardless of your job, company, role, or industry, you have skills that apply to all sorts of positions for which you may not have even thought about. Project management for an airplane manufacturer cannot be that far removed from the same at an automobile wholesaler. Take a step back and start a deep dive in to identify the common threads and the fundamentals that exist between your current industry experience and the one you want to enter into. Practice how you communicate the relevance between the two. Create a communication blueprint.

  1. Stress the soft skills: work ethic, attitude, and self-awareness.

 In the absence of any direct experience, you are going to have to help the hiring manager see three things that can’t be seen on a resume.

  1. Work Ethic: You have the ability, and more importantly the willingness to focus on what must be done and then do it. Coming to an interview with a well thought out and professionally bound executive summary on the industry and the company gives evidence for the kind of time and attention you’re willing to put forth if hired.
  2. Attitude: Your glass is half full and the grass isn’t greener on the other side. You are an optimist, you take responsibility, and you hold yourself accountable.
  3. Self-Awareness: The ability to recognize and understand the differences in yourself and other people is a primary key to success in the modern day work environment. In an interconnected world—being a consensus thinker is invaluable. Show that you have situational awareness, and assimilation comes naturally.

Make it a point to emphasize those three things–and ask them for the chance to learn the rest.

There are no shortcuts. Be willing to make the investment in yourself and do the hard work. I am a living, walking, and talking example of someone who successfully made multiple industry migrations at the highest level of my chosen profession—you can too.

About Paul Fornelli

Paul Fornelli is an award-winning sales, sales management, and sales training professional. He is the author of Sales Readiness: A Template for Success. Fornelli has over 20 years of sales experience in B2B wholesale mortgage banking, PEO, capital medical sales, and enterprise-level medical device information systems and integration software for health care organizations.

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