Switching Industries and Careers: How to Make the Transition

You’ve been in your career in the same industry for 5, 10, maybe 20 years, and you’re feeling the itch for change. Whether you no longer feel fulfilled by your career or whether there’s a certain industry or role you’ve always wanted to try– you’re interested in taking a leap into a new role, but the “what if’s” are overwhelming.

What if you can’t find a job?

What if you have to take a massive pay cut?

What if you risk the career you’ve already built to head into something that will ultimately not work out?

What do you do?

In a recent Chicago Boss Babe Brunch, a networking group for driven, career-oriented women, gathered to discuss their challenges in switching industries and tactics on how to successfully take the leap.

1. Use Your Existing Network

Often there are people in our world who have connections in the industry we want to transfer to, but we’d never know it if we never reach out. Sometimes a simple LinkedIn message to an old colleague, letting them know you’re on the prowl for a new position in a new field can work wonders in connecting you to someone in the industry who may be able to help. Focus on the people who know you well, have worked with you in some capacity, and would happily sing your praises to a friend or colleague. If you’re not close to someone but they’re doing the type of work you want to be doing and ask them to coffee, start a dialogue, or ask them for some recommendations of events to attend or some of their resources to help you expand network in that space.

2. Hire a Resume Writer

A good resume writer does more than write a resume. They sit down, have a conversation with you, and try to uncover the transferable skills you may not even realize you have in order to apply those skills to a new job. Sometimes you need someone trained in sussing out those hidden skills and reframing them to match a career, job or industry you’re interested in transitioning to. “When you hire a resume writer, you will talk through your goals and all of your skills/experience, transferable skills, and they will reconstruct your resume to be a great job candidate for that type of role. It’s all about changing the narrative and presenting your experience in a different light,” says Chicago Boss Babe co-founder, Mae Fitzpatrick. “I used a FANTASTIC resume writer when I was switching fields, and pretty much immediately got calls for the jobs I was looking for. Plus aesthetically your resume will look amazing too, which is always an attention-grabber.”

3. Identify Your Expertise

Don’t be afraid to call yourself an expert in the things you are an expert in. Email savvy? Compelling storyteller? Marketing maven? Own your expertise, and update your search profiles to reflect that expertise: “Email Marketing Expert”, “Storytelling Expert”, “Digital Marketing Expert”. Using the word expert to identify your strengths works for a few reasons– first, it shows your confidence in what you do. Second, it helps people see right away what you’re all about. And thirdly, it stand you out from a crowd of “highly skilled communications professional”, because at the end of the day, who would you rather hire? A highly skilled professional or an expert? 

4. Identify Your Transferable Skills:

When pitching yourself for a different field or industry, identify the skills and traits that would apply or bring added benefits to the role you are interested in, and emphasize them. These skills/traits may even give you a competitive advantage, because you are not only proving you are qualified but you bring something different to the table. Remember, as we said in our post about “Negotiating like a Boss Babe,” all your marketable skills have value and it’s your job to connect the dots between your skills and this new industry. 

If you’re considering switching careers or industries or both, you’re not alone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that people change jobs an average of 12 times in a career, and millennials change jobs three times more often! It’s do-able, especially if it’s something you really want. Don’t forget, your experiences and skills are an advantage in a new job, not a disadvantage and can give you a competitive edge if you’re able to market yourself in the right way. 

Got any tips?

We all know transferring into a new job can be scary, especially if we have a few years experience under our belt. Been through the transition before? What are your top tips to help other women make the dive? Share in the comments below.


Chicago Boss Babe Brunch is all about fostering productive and honest discussions with career-oriented women to work through challenges together and compile actionable strategies for growth — while also building a personal and professional network of like-minded women. To join Chicago’s not-so-typical networking group, use our contact form or follow the group on Instagram @chicagobbbrunch.

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