Transitioning Careers: Skills to Highlight When You’re Trying to Make the Leap

Transitioning Careers: Skills to Highlight When You’re Trying to Make the Leap

If you’ve been daydreaming of transitioning careers, congrats! One in four workers quit their jobs in 2021, marking a year of historic job turnover. 

Since so many Americans packed up their cubicles, companies are in dire need of new hires. And with prospective employees holding out for more money and benefits than ever before, now may be the ideal time to make a move. 

If a not-so-lateral move is in your post-pandemic career bucket list, we’ve got a list of skills you’ll need to make the leap to a new industry. 

Soft Skills

We’ve been hearing more and more from HR departments about “soft skills” lately. And we can thank the Great Resignation for that.

Companies have determined that workers who embody such soft skills are more likely to be intrinsically motivated than other employees. Intrinsically motivated folks are more likely to stick around longer than those motivated by external forces

This matters.

Companies don’t want to spend time and resources on hiring and employee turnover. While they realize that workers won’t stick around for 30-plus years in this new era, they do want them to stay for at least a few years (if not a decade).  

Transferable Skills

One of the most successful routes through a career transition is highlighting transferable skills on your resume. These are skills needed in both your old industry and your new one. 

Depending on your desired industry, you may want to focus primarily on your soft skills (ones that aren’t industry-specific, such as organizational, time management, empathy, and communication skills). 

Research Industry Professionals

Not everyone takes the same path to reach their career goals. You’ll find that there are a lot of professionals across industries who took non-linear career paths. 

Look for industry models — or, industry professionals who you can model yourself after. 

You can do this by researching professionals who work at your “dream” organizations. Check out their Linkedin pages and find out what skills they’ve highlighted on their online resumes. Do you share any skills? Make sure to highlight those on your resume and during your interviews.

It’s totally OK to “fangirl” during a job interview. If you’re passionate about working with these industry leaders, say it. And then don’t forget to mention how their non-linear paths turned them into company success stories. 

Compare AI Keywords

transitioning careers

Compare AI keywords between industries. 

If you work in journalism and want to switch to public relations, research similar HR keywords for both industries, and highlight the skills that are imperative to both. 

You’ll find that PR and journalism are very similar fields (as are PR and marketing), so such a transition might not be a huge logical leap for most recruiters. What gets a little trickier is making a leap between two career paths that might not share many similarities. 

Even if you’re transitioning between two career tracks that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, all is not lost. Nearly every industry needs workers who can effectively communicate and empathize with each other, organize projects, and use other soft skills.

Arguably, soft skills are some of the most sought-after ones right now. 

New Skills

If you’re planning on transitioning careers, you’ll probably need to acquire some new skills (if you haven’t already!). 

Now is the time to start taking classes or asking for new responsibilities at your current position. This shows prospective employers that you are willing to learn the skills you need to thrive in a new industry. 

At the end of the day, your skills don’t matter as much as your ability and willingness to learn new ones. 

Tips for Transitioning Careers

Transitioning careers isn’t easy, and highlighting your skills and experience is only half the battle. 

If you’re going to make the leap, you’re going to need to embrace rejection, have patience (another soft skill!), and stop settling. 

Stand Your Ground

If you start interviewing for new roles or roles within different industries, expect a lot of recruiters to try to lure you back to your old industry.

There’s a good chance recruiters may respond to applications or inquiries because they want to hire you for a role similar to your current one. Expect them to suggest you spend a year or so at a role within your current industry before making the switch.

Is there a chance you could switch industries later by taking this role? Sure. But the recruiter’s job is to place you in a role that best suits your current skills. You may get several ultimatums: take the job in your old industry or it’s a no. 

If you truly believe accepting another job in your current industry could be a stepping stone, consider it. But be prepared to reject offers that only seem like lateral moves (or to be rejected by recruiters who aren’t serious about your switch). 


Embrace Rejection

A lot of it. Rejection is just one of the difficulties of finding a job. Despite the fact that companies are relaxing their usual job requirements, transitioning careers still isn’t easy.

You’re going to need to get used to the art of being rejected

This may be especially uncomfortable if you’re used to being a rising star in your current industry. College-to-career tracks don’t set up candidates for rejection. They provide sponsors and mentors to help you navigate the rocky waters of advancement, helping you to embrace the winner you are.

Getting rejected doesn’t mean you’ll never make the shift. It simply means that you weren’t a good fit for that shift. 

Show prospective employers that you’re in it for the long-haul by embracing a sense of resolve as well as rejection. 

Take Your Time

You may not be able to make your move right away. Again, patience is a skill you may need to hone during this time.

Successful people know that “luck” is when preparation meets opportunity. 

Keep your eye on the prize, and don’t give up.

And if you need a little help? Rise is here for you. Get the connections and opportunities you need to make the leap to another industry by joining Rise’s community of diverse talent. We’ll give you the tools you need to make the shift and avoid job search burnout.

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