Career transitions from one industry to another are very possible. The trick is to understand your new industry and the type of role you want to do. Understand what skills are necessary to do that role well, and then evaluate your prior experience to see how it fits with that new role and skillset. Then develop your story, to explain how your skills transfer into the new role.
The key is to understand the jargon of the new role, and translate what you’ve done and your skill set and experiences into that new world of language. For example, a recent client completed her MBA and wanted to transition to the private equity industry from health care insurance. As she initially started her search, she became discouraged as she was told that the PE companies were looking for people with investment banking experience. However, as an undergraduate math major, she had significant quantitative skills. In addition, prior to her MBA, she spent four years working with clients to project their costs and savings for health care coverage for their employees under various health care administrative schemes, refining projections as assumptions played out and re-forecasting to provide insight and guidance. She worked directly with clients and developed great interpersonal skills.
As I worked with her to understand exactly what interested her about the PE world, and the role she wanted to play, it was clear that she had the skills and background to transition; she just needed to find a way to speak their language, so potential employers in PE would understand her experience and how it could be applicable. She needed to re-cast her resume in terms that the new industry members would understand. She also needed to practice explaining what she did in her prior role, and how that was applicable to the desired position.
By working to develop her story, she could not only update her resume to “speak the right language” and increase her chances of securing an interview, but she would also be prepared to effectively communicate it when she got in front of the right people. At the same time, she needed to start increasing her participation in the world she wanted to enter. With the number of networking groups, seminars, webinars and other activities happening in every industry, there is no substitute for getting out and getting engaged.
Even in the recent pandemic, with everything moving online, the ability to engage and participate is immense. Participating in industry events, joining associations, and volunteering to help with event hosting and logistics are all ways to not only meet connectors but continue to learn industry jargon and understand important topics in your desired new career.
An unconventional path can be an asset, if you are able to explain why. Develop your story,
using language your audience will understand about topics relevant to them, and you will be well on your way.