Tips for Changing Industries in the Middle of Your Career

In 2013, 94.3 million visitors came to Florida, according to Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation.  Tourists visited many of the top Florida attractions in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Miami, and many more and spent over $76 billion. 

The tourism industry remains the number one industry in Florida, which has generated numerous new jobs in Tampa Bay and the surrounding regions.   With increased availability of jobs in the tourism industry, it might seem like a more favorable industry to be in.  But how do you transition to a new industry if you have extensive experience in another? Here are a few helpful tips.

1. Keep track of all of your accomplishments and know how to market them. Have you kept a running tally of all of your successes?  If not, think back to previous projects you completed, campaigns you implemented, or fundraising goals you met and write down how you achieved these goals.  When you’re making your list, make sure you don’t use industry-specific terms. Keep it general so you can apply it to any job you are applying to in any industry. Keep your list handy so you can reference it when applying to a new job or study it before an interview.

2. Know how your skills transfer. In most cases, you can apply some of your current experience to different industries.  First, do a little research to gather valuable information on what key industry terms you want to highlight in your resume.  There are many ways to do this.  You can attend industry events, research companies online, or subscribe to publications in your desired industry.  Take notes of some of the most frequently used terms so you can utilize them in your new resume and cover letter as you talk about your skills and work experience. 

For example, if your work experience has consisted of working in the Tampa healthcare field assisting patients and you would really like to transition to the hospitality field to assist guests at a hotel you can package your skills on a more general basis.  Both positions require customer service, time management, organizational skills, and communication skills.  When you craft your resume, take specific examples of how you exceled in these areas and leave off industry-specific terms.

3. Consider volunteering. Sometimes the best way to get noticed is to show the company what you can do by volunteering during your free time.  A friend of mine developed an interest for event planning as she worked on a few employee events for her job.  So, she decided to change industries and go into event planning, but struggled to get noticed by employers.  She started volunteering on the weekends as an assistant to an event planner and gained experience to include on her resume.  With the additional experience, she was able to get a job as an Event Coordinator.

4. Consider going to industry events and conferences. This is a great way to gain some additional knowledge on your new industry, and it will also give you the perfect opportunity to network. 

5. Enroll in an online certification course. Many accredited colleges and universities offer different certification courses you can take online.  They are less expensive than full degree programs and offer you the flexibility to do them virtually and on your own time.

6. Be prepared to completely re-write your resume. Your current resume will be tailored to your current industry.  The best thing to do is start fresh with a new resume. If you have already made a list of your transferrable skills, you can use this to craft your new resume.

7. Attend a Career Fair.  Research which industry-related career fairs are coming up and make your game plan in advance.  Find out which companies are attending, research them in advance, and make a list of questions.  This will allow you to find out more information about which types of positions the companies are hiring for and exactly what skills they are looking for in the desired candidate. Plus, you will get business cards which will help you in the application process.  If you make a successful connection while talking to a recruiter or human resources professional at the event, ask if you can connect with him/her on LinkedIn or if you can follow-up after applying for a job with the company. 

Above all, be patient.  Transitioning to a new industry takes time, but it’s well worth it in the end.  The excitement and passion you have for the industry will show through in your work.  The best job is the one that doesn't feel like work.

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