How does a sales professional move from IT sales to consumer durable sales? Or a project manager shift from the construction industry to IT? Or a media sales professional transit to IT sales. I myself have moved from a successful career in media sales to heading my own brand Aspiration which caters not only to recruitment but also to job and interview assistance. As it is said “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”-Robert E Quinn.
All is possible with few specific steps thoughtfully taken. There are many candidates who we have offered assistance in successfully transiting from one industry to another. Let us see what you need to do:
1] Transferable skills:
Make a list of all your skill sets which are transferable. For example, team management, negotiation ability, vendor management, performance management, distribution management, presentation skills, conceptualization ability…. and so on. Please think hard and develop an exhaustive list. The focus may primarily be on soft skills but do include hard skills (domain specific like SAP in IT) too which may be used depending upon the industry you desire to shift.
2] Skills in target industry:
List down the skill sets required by the industry you intend shifting. How do you know about them? Go through multiple Job descriptions for positions related to your domain. So for Sales; negotiation ability, closure of deals, key account management, vendor management would be few of the skills that are transferable across industries. For project management, TAT (turn around time) negotiation skills, vendor management are the common requirements. That gives you a match between your skills and what the new industry requires.
3] Nuances of the new industry:
Study in detail the nuances of the new industry that you are targeting. For example, if you are in B to B sales in say Media and want to shift to the IT industry, then the specific requirement of negotiation skill would need to be fine-tuned depending upon the value of the deals in the transaction. If they are high-value deals or lower value deals, then adapting your negotiation skill to that kind of requirement needs to be focused upon. If relationships in the marketplace are critical for the job, then focus on your execution ability of systems and processes which help deliver customer satisfaction serving as a platform to develop a relationship. Or if you are into project management within the construction industry and wanting to move to IT. There would be specifics pertaining to the role of a project manager in the IT industry which might be a high priority area which you may possess as a skill but it might have not have been honed as much in the construction industry because it might not have been critical for the end result. Being sensitive to such nuances and using a tailor-made approach is required.
One of the most critical traits is adaptability when you are making an industry shift. The prospective employer needs to be presented with examples of your adaptability to new situations at your workplace. It can be phases of quick and sudden changes and your maturity to handle them successfully which gives confidence. List down such examples. Your Resume too needs to be customised with such examples reflecting a tone of adaptability.
5] Use of LinkedIn:
A] Study the LinkedIn profiles of your counterparts in the sought after industry and the kind of skills they list down.
B] Ask few of your bosses for recommendations which mention your trait and skill to handle cross-functional responsibility and also the projects which require a different skill set.
C] Make a list of all potential hiring managers/HR managers in the companies of the target industry/industries. Start connecting with them using a unique approach which motivates the reader to accept your invite. It is important to remember this – no asking for a job at this stage but just improving your network is needed.
6] Jobs in the target industry :
Search for jobs in the target industry with the right keywords. But instead of just sending applications, you need to study the business pain points of the company and the job and take an approach of finding a connect by presenting yourself as a solution provider.
7] Customised Cover note:
Customise a short cover note addressing the business pain point of the company and focus on presenting your transferable skills with an example. You would have got the inputs from the homework done on the nuances of the industry.
Be open to relocation for a job because that increases your options and chances are that you land up with a job faster.
9] Salary expectation:
While one can work towards expecting an increase as per industry norms, it is also advisable to keep yourself open to negotiating. The salary offered would all depend upon what is the kind of fitment offered by your skills into the role in the new industry. However since the prospective employer also needs to see positive results after hiring (read experimenting) you, salary package can be worked out in a manner that part of it is linked to performance. There can also be an option of an early review.
10] Confidence in self:
Last but not least, there is no substitute for confidence in oneself.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” Jalaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi
Now you are ready with tools to move to another industry and widen your net for your job search. Go ahead and start taking these steps and experience a joyful transition.