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7 Ways to Break Into a New Field of Work

Published on June 19, 2016 12:00 AM EST
7 Ways to Break Into a New Field of Work

You want to enter a new industry, follow your passion in a unique career path, or begin a job you haven’t done before. These can be exciting, scary, and baffling times. You might feel unqualified, intimidated, or frustrated. We know that submitting countless resumes for online job postings is a waste of time, but how do you stand out? How do you break into a new field of work?


7 Ways to Break Into a New Field of Work

Do something different.


“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ― Will Rogers


Hiring managers want to know three things: you can do the job, you want the job, and you’re a good fit for the company culture. You can show them you want the job and that you fit the culture when you’re in the interview. But to get an interview, you need evidence that the job is old news to you: you know how to do it because you’ve done it before. You’re competing against other candidates who already have experience in that field, so how do you differentiate yourself and show the hiring manager that you’re the right one?


The formula is simple: to break into a new field of work, you need to know the field, and others need to view you as an expert (even – and especially – if you don’t consider yourself one now). Here are 7 things you can do now to launch your new career:


Know the field


1. Join a related professional organization.

Look at the profiles of people who succeed in your chosen field. What organizations do they join? Pick one that interests you, and make sure it provides you with insights, information, and opportunities to meet other members. Then join. Many of these require a membership fee, but you may be able to join at a reduced rate if you have a student email address, if you’re a young professional, or if you know someone who refers you to the organization.


“If you have the opportunity to do amazing things in your life, I strongly encourage you to invite someone to join you.” ― Simon Sinek


2. Network with other people who already work in the field.

Meet new people through the professional organization you just joined, reach out to people through LinkedIn, and ask the people you know who they might know – and then connect. Ask for informational interviews to get to know them and the industry, and find out what makes successful people rise to the top. You’ll quickly learn that people enjoy giving advice, and they like talking about themselves. Show others that you’re curious and don’t ask them for any favors, and they’ll spill the beans. Just be yourself, be sincere, and don’t ask for anything – you just want to learn.


“Achievement is talent plus preparation.” ― Malcolm Gladwell


3. Google it.

Research top companies, market conditions, industry trends, and competitors. Find out what leaders in the field read. Then hop online, head to your library, subscribe to a magazine or two, or download some ebooks to get started. Immerse yourself in the language and ideas of your chosen field, and then you’ll start generating ideas of your own.


”The only true knowledge is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates


Become an expert


4. Call yourself one!

An expert is simply someone who knows and shares information about a particular subject. Build a personal branding website, start tweeting, start posting articles on LinkedIn. Volunteer to help organize a conference, or ask for opportunities to speak about a topic you care about. Help people learn that you have information to share and ideas to offer, and they’ll be happy to listen. Bonus: if you speak at a conference, even if it’s to moderate a small or group discussion, or to sit on a panel, you often can attend the conference without having to pay an entry fee!


“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious behavior.” ― Henry David Thoreau


5. Learn more.

If the new field values certain certifications or training, invest in yourself to prove that you have the same knowledge base as others. Schedule time every day to read the websites, news, journals, magazines, and books that matter most. Schedule some Google alerts to email you relevant articles and internet mentions. Choose to be curious and make learning part of your daily routine.


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


6. Teach someone else.

Offer your mentorship in the new field to your alma mater. Volunteer to help a young professional who can use advice and a friend. Speak to a high school DECA group or offer to judge a community college competition in your new field. Put together a presentation, practice, and deliver it to an audience. If you teach someone else, your confidence and conviction grow, and you show others that you know the content and you care about them and the new field.


“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”― Maya Angelou


7. Tell the world.

Update your resume and use it to tell the stories about what you’ve done and how your experience perfectly applies to the new field. Add a professional summary at the top that clearly and quickly describes what problems you solve for your next organization. And update your LinkedIn profile with the right words, phrases, and language that brand you as the expert you’ve become. Ask people you trust to look at your resume and LinkedIn profile, and listen to their feedback. Make sure you use correct grammar and make what you write interesting. Avoid any glaring errors or boring/common content, and future hiring managers will be thrilled to learn more about you.


“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” ― Grace Murray Hopper


If you carefully plan for the transition, learn all you can, and find ways to share your knowledge, your next job can be a refreshing change to a new role that fills your bucket. Life is too long to spend unfulfilled. Make the change and find your career joy!


“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ― Walt Disney

7 Ways to Break Into a New Field of Work
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