Looking to Switch Industries?
woman engineer in lab

Change is inevitable, says Paul Fornelli, author of Sales Readiness: A Template for Success. Here’s career help for workers and job seekers adapting to changes in technology in the recruitment industry.

The introduction of applicant track systems (ATS), analytics, and algorithms as a means of recruiting employees has radically altered the landscape. This change is especially tough for anyone trying to cross over 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.”

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

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 must 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 specific industry, company, and role that you covet. Be pro-active and be deliberate by going directly 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.

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 must understand that risk mitigation is the key. Make it easy on them—present yourself as a subject matter expert and demonstrate that you can be ready to go on day one.

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 to identify the common threads and the fundamentals that exist between your current industry and the one you want to enter. Practice how you communicate the relevance between the two. Create a communication blueprint.

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.


Beth Kelzer
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