Leaving the army to go back into the civilian work force can be one tough career switch (Flickr photo via familymwr)
If you’ve ever wondered whether switching to a new industry is going to work then you should probably consider the following three problems.
You’d also better hope that you’re going to do something about them.
You can only deal with them if you use some elbow grease.
Magic wand lovers need not apply.
1. Get the Skills or Forget It
You’d better have some skills that can transfer to a new career or industry.
Are you in marketing or sales?
Great, your skill set is likely going to make the switch.
You’re in something else?
You’d better think hard about what you’re able to bring to the new industry that would help you stand out.
Are you a nurse who’s worked in psych wards?
That could work if you’re going into social work.
Are you a graphic designer who’s run tens of thousands of projects – you could probably get into a project management position.
If you seriously do not have the basic skills to do the job to the right level then you are seriously, seriously dead in the water.
Even the best marketing help from me or anyone else is useless.
It’s like trying to sell a car that looks sleek and sexy and has the horsepower of a donkey.
All looks, no substance.
Trust me, I’ve had a client or two who’s come to me in this kind of situation and it hasn’t worked out well for them.
If you don’t have the skills for the field and you want to get into it take my advice: get the damned skills.
Don’t expect your career advisor to bail you out with a magic wand.
Get an internship.
Get some volunteering.
Learn the skill on your own.
Find any chance to get the skill even if you’re not paid.
Want more specific ideas?
Catchafire matches professionally-skilled volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises. This is a great service if you don’t have a lot of time to devote – you just work on short specific projects for a few hours at a time.
ReWork gets you meaningful jobs that help change the world for the better. More of a talent agency for good guys – some of the work is remote and allows you to work from anywhere in the world. It’s primarily based in the San Francisco region.
2. Get the Right Networks or Die Alone
It’s the damned obvious thing and yet job seekers and 90% of people who need it most just don’t do it.
Laziness will kill us all.
Go out there and hunt down the hiring managers, recruiters and executives.
Talk to people who work on the ground in these companies from the receptionists to the janitors if you have to.
You want to know these people because you’ll be working with them to some level and they can tell you what the culture is like.
That way you won’t be surprised, you’ll have inside information and you can drop the companies that have terrible work climates.
At least you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.
The cost of high stress and bad health isn’t worth the pay check.
So how do you get started you ask?
Find these people on social media.
Trying some Facebook ads may not land you the job though you’ll certainly find some contacts for your target industry.
Ask people in your current network for referrals.
Do they know anyone in the industry who’d be worth talking to?
Who do they recommend?
Extra Reading: 3 Steps to Write a Job Search SOS
You can also talk with the industry experts, movers and shakers.
The guys and gals who talk at conferences, who write papers, articles and blog posts.
Check out the Huffington Post for example.
You can also find their email and phone numbers and ask for two minutes of their time.
Comment on their blogs if you want to start building a relationship.
Of course you can also add a few more networking tricks to your sleeve by reading books like Networking Like a Pro (aff).
WeFollow: Find people on Twitter
3. Send the Right Image or Be Invisible
You have to market the right successes, skills and accomplishments in a way that gets the attention of people in the new industry or field.
Are you telling a story of successes that could happen again for people in the new industry?
What’s your core message?
- Are you a marketing master who’s helped small and medium businesses grow by x%?
- Are you a nonprofit project coordinator looking to manage large teams of over 300 volunteers?
- Are you an environmental engineer who’s handled $2 million worth of restoration projects all over the world?
So what do you bring to the table?
So how do you pull this off?
Learn how to market yourself i.e. do it yourself (DIY).
Get resources like my book 101 Job Search Hacks (second edition with a third on its way) or Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch will help you market yourself without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on training.
Of course you can also get expert professional help too.
You can get a serious marketer to give you some advice.
One contributor to my book, Umar Ghumman, is a digital strategist with experience doing a brand audit.
He’s a great fellow to talk with about marketing.
Note: For more people who could help you out in the marketing department check out What Linchipins Can Teach Us About Shinobi Tactics at The Renaissance Monk.
If you’re damned serious about kicking ass then you can contact me directly through the contact form.
I’ll give you free advice if I can or give you some other options that would be too long winded to be put in a post.
Get the skills (substance).
Get the attention of the right people who can help or mentor you.
Get help telling the right story for your new industry.
So if you’re seriously thinking of making a career transition (whether to a new industry or into freelancing or entrepreneurism) then do those three things.
Solve the problems instead of wandering around lost.
And of course kick ass with career ninjutsu (no holds barred).
PS. If you have any problems with career transitions that I missed or have some ideas for solving these problems then drop a line below.