Walking away from a stable career in favor of something new can be scary. It can be really uncomfortable to leave behind the safety of a job and industry you know well, but maybe all of the unknowns aren’t enough to dampen your career dreams. I know that all too well myself, having recently left my decade-long career in consulting to enter the fitness industry. Along the way, I learned a few things about how to make it in an entirely new industry when you know nothing and no one.
1. Network like you’ve never networked before
It’s likely you don’t have a lot of contacts in your new field — but no problem! In this age of social networks, don’t be afraid to ask around. LinkedIn is a great resource for identifying people in your desired industry, and you can probably find a friend who will provide a warm introduction to someone working in that field. Take advantage of networking events in your area. In this season of networking, be mindful that you aren’t exploiting relationships simply for their contacts.
2. Share your goals
If your family, friends and colleagues don’t know about your dreams to get into graphic design or HR, they can’t help you! When I initially crafted my future career plan, I was tentative in telling other people. Once I realized that most of my inner circle wouldn’t judge and simply wanted to support me, I had a whole new world of input and ideas that have been beneficial, not to mention a bunch of cheerleaders.
3. Revamp your resume
Your new industry may value different skills or education from your previous jobs or career. You may want to consider transitioning to a functional résumé, which can highlight the key skills from your past experience that are meaningful to your new job or industry. It may also be helpful to have a friend help you work through this or lend a critical eye to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything.
4. Get educated
When you’ve spent time in another career or industry, it can feel like you’ll never be able to get your foot in the door. Depending on the field, there may be certifications or specialized training that will provide you with basic knowledge or insight into the current industry trends. Make sure to highlight your new skills on your résumé and in interviews. This will not only show you are qualified for the job but that you are dedicated to this new path.
As RuPaul so famously said, “Girl, you better work!” You may find yourself putting in extra hours before or after your day job simply to try to establish yourself or build new skills in your new career field. I often spend my evenings researching trends in the fitness industry and catching up on networking and emailing potential contacts. Just remember, this is temporary and could pay dividends in the long run.
Along the road to your new career, there will probably be some bumps and possibly a few setbacks. If you work hard and stay focused on your end goal, you can make it happen. Just don’t quit your daydream!