1. Play up your likenesses, diminish your differences
Most organizations prefer to hire from within the industry specifically because the candidates that they bring in are guaranteed to have some legacy knowledge about their business. However, if you’re looking to make a cross-industry move, you can help to bridge the gap by highlighting the similarities between your current industry and the one you’re looking to move into. For instance, both the pharmaceutical and finance industries are heavily regulated and rather compliance-driven, which makes a move between these industries a bit easier. If the organization you’re courting is in an industry where security is paramount, make sure your resume and your interview answers play up your relevant experience in that field.
2. Be vocal about your objectives
One of the most attractive things to a hiring authority is a candidate who truly wants the job. For this reason, it will serve you well to speak early and often about what excites you about their business. Don’t be afraid to share with the hiring manager that you are actively seeking to break into a new industry. Companies like to hire candidates who want the job, so there is no sense in acting aloof in this case. Bring your enthusiasm for the new industry to the table and be prepared to speak as to why you want to make that move.
3. Take the initiative outside of work
The fact of the matter is that some industry barriers exist for a reason. For instance, specific tools are often only employed by select industries. While you may be certain that you could easily pick up new technologies, the fact remains that you will likely lose out on a position if there is a candidate who already knows the ropes and requires less training. You can help close the gap by taking the initiative to learn new skills that your current industry just doesn’t give you exposure to. Take a look at relevant cross-industry job descriptions. Is there a job-specific tool that comes up time and time again? If so, you’ll give yourself a huge advantage in the market if you are willing to learn it. You may even want to get certified in its use, to show off your skills and your commitment.
4. Preparation is key
As an industry outsider, you simply lack a lot of insider knowledge that others who’ve spent their careers in that specific job have gained. For this reason, you should expect to prepare harder than other candidates if you want to get the job. Read articles from outside of your industry, do your homework about potential employers, and most importantly don’t give up. You might knock it out of the park on your first outside-industry interview, but you might not. Even if you don’t make the industry leap the first time around, you will gain invaluable insight into what you need to successfully transition. Pay attention to the interview questions you are asked, the specific tools that are mentioned, and the skillsets that are requested. If you don’t have something they’re looking for, seek it out before your next interview. Part of preparing to make a cross-industry move is learning what’s expected of you in a different industry, so take advantage of the interview process as the great tool that it is for preparing you for the next stage in your career.