Reflecting back on my own experience in changing industries, I learned the importance in having a strong and specific vision of what it is you want to do next. Once you narrow it down as specifically as you can, it is then you must fully commit to pursuing this vision. I started out in finance working at Merrill Lynch. After five years of contributing to the company, I realized I wanted to get out of the industry and find something new, exciting and different. I took this desire to make a change seriously and in knowing that I wanted to get into sales, I decided to explore the tech industry. I spoke to many different people about available opportunities, networking as much as possible and as it turned out, my roommate had a friend working at Salesforce. Of course, I leveraged this connection and had her refer me for the open business development role. Regardless of having no experience in sales, I went into the interview with energy and enthusiasm. The role was an entry-level position prospecting to enterprise level accounts, and one that was open to people with diverse backgrounds. I knew that in order to get my foot in the door, I would have to adapt to the role, which is precisely what I did. I translated the skills I had gained from working at Merrill Lynch, brought excitement and passion to the table and landed the position: a new job in a new industry.
All said and done, my advice is as follows:
First and foremost, ask yourself: are you ready to make a move?
Make sure you are serious and committed to pursuing a new industry before you take initiative. This will provide you the drive to set out with a confident note.
Then, you can begin to network
I mean literally work your network with everyone you possibly can– family, friends, colleagues and so forth. Cast a wide net and set out to find information from any and all connections you have with people. Express your interest in new opportunities and tell people you’re looking. If you want to find what is out there, you must proactively search for, utilize and leverage your resources and social ties. This includes interviewing with people casually about their jobs, asking questions, attending events and being open-minded to those who are willing to help you.
Additionally, make sure to do your research
In order to be confident in testing the waters, it is crucial to understand the industry, so that when you go into interviews, you have knowledge and can speak the language of the industry. When employers interview, they can read and feel your excitement about the opportunity at hand and simply put, people want and look for someone who is excited and passionate and can set you miles apart from someone who lacks this energy, even with the credentials.
Furthermore, be flexible
Though you may not find the perfect thing right away, be patient and open to everything because you never know how things could turn out. You may explore an opportunity that is typically out of your comfort zone and find it to be something you truly love. On this note, it is incredibly important to never give up. You can make anything happen and accomplish many things if you are persistent and passionate. The more focused you are, the better your chances. Don’t be afraid to seek advice and be brave as you put yourself out there with your network. You must be willing to take on the fear of the unknown, where there is great risk there is subsequently great reward. Thinking about it, you don’t want to look back on your life years from now and be left wondering. If you don’t take the chances and make changes, will you regret it?
Lastly, pay it forward
You will encounter people who are looking to change industries and find new opportunities as you once were. Remember how you felt throughout the transition period when you were seeking change and in consideration, help them out like you know you would have wanted.