Breaking Into a New Field or Industry

Ask A CoachWhether you are returning from a career break and trying to figure out your next steps or are contemplating a sabbatical but don’t know where to start, our career coaches are here to help.

Barbara Pagano of YourSABBATICAL answers the question:

I’ve realized I no longer want to go back to my old career. In a market with high unemployment, how can I make myself noticed or create opportunities in a new field or industry?

[singlepic=1762,125,,,left]Congratulations on being a risk-taker! Staying in a career that no longer fits your needs can be one of the most debilitating moves away from future happiness. Plus it robs your potential. Here are three ideas to break into a new field or industry during a sabbatical, even in these trying times:

1. Immerse yourself in the industry. While you might not have experience in this new field, you can start building a firm base of knowledge by connecting with someone who’s successful in the industry and give you information such as the trade magazines to read, the well-respected associations that lead the way, and the best internet resources where you can learn what’s going on. Perhaps there’s a book and a couple of industry gurus to become acquainted with, too. Read, research, and attend association events. Learn the industry jargon, current challenges, and trends to make your entrance a stunner.

2. Take the “career journey” approach. Successful business people who are asked for “10 minutes” by someone (even a stranger) who is “on a journey to discover whether this is a career for me” often say “yes.” Honor their time by keeping to the time frame and asking smart questions. You’ll have the opportunity to not only gather valuable information but also to make a connection with someone at the top of the field. And who knows, maybe that person knows of a job or company that’s a good fit for you.

3. Utilize your present skills. An internship or volunteer opportunity to showcase your present skills allows you to show enthusiasm for learning about a new industry. Companies in the industry you are pursuing, particularly if they are growing and entrepreneurial, might be open to offering an internship to you, especially if you can help them solve a pressing challenge or obtain new ideas. Keep your ears open for opportunities at industry networking events where you can say, “I can help you with that.”

While skills and experience are important as you transition to a new industry or career, always remember that people are hired for their enthusiasm and passion, too. And if you use your sabbatical to research the industry or experience an internship, be sure to leverage that on your resume. Good luck!

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