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Guerilla Your Way into New Industry: Tips for Getting a Job that’s Outside Your Area of Expertise

While many tips here on Guerilla Job Hunting deal with finding a job using creative, beyond-the-norm methods, the presupposition of most advice is that you are looking for work that's immediately within your purview. That is to say, it is assumed that you want a job that fits in neatly with other jobs you've had in the past, or is in some way or another related to what you've studied in school. But what if you want to try something new? Whether you've been working in the same industry for years and desperately want a change of scenery, or you've just finished school with a major in business but want a job in something as far-fetched as graphic design, there are certainly things you can do to find employment that conventional wisdom says you aren't suited for. Here are some tips.

 

1. Go beyond transferable skills.

The first piece of advice that many job search gurus will proffer in an effort to help you get a job outside your industry is to emphasize "transferable skills". But as Liz Ryan, a former HR executive for a Fortune 500 company notes in her GlassDoor article, when you talk to hiring managers, whether in an interview setting or in your resume, about your transferable skills, you run the risk of over-generalizing what you have to offer. The most basic transferable skills, like "communication skills" or "teamwork skills" say nothing about who you are or why you should be hired. Highlight what makes you special in the context of your new industry with specific examples of past success.

 

2. Do your research

Of course, this goes without saying. You can't expect to break into a new line of work by only displaying a passing interest. Especially since you may not yet have any substantive experience relating to the new job you want, you're going to have to hit the books, the industry journals, and any other media that you can get your hands on in order to educate yourself. If you are truly passionate about the new industry, you'll do your homework well in advance of even contemplating breaking into the field.

 

3. Offer your primary expertise in exchange for training and insight.

This method, one that I read about in a recent Wall Street Journal article, I thought was simply brilliant. The author, founder and CEO of a small social networking-based company, advises that you offer your primary expertise to a small company or non-profit related to the industry you want to break into. Offer your services on a project-basis for little or no money, and ask if, in exchange, you can learn about your new industry from an insider's point of view. While there are of course no certainties when using this method, it will certainly help you get your foot in the door in terms of getting the necessary experience for a full-time job in the industry later on.

 

4. Go beyond reading by spending time with industry professionals.

You can read all you want about the industry you're hoping to break into, but theoretical knowledge, while certainly useful, goes only so far. Comb your social networks, whether online or off, to find people you know in the industry for which you want to find employment. Attend industry conferences and put yourself out there. By interacting with those in your target industry, not only will you build future contacts in the event of job openings, but you'll also learn all the intimate details from the industry lingo to the latest trends that can only be gained by seeing theoretical knowledge put into practice.

 

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Tara Miller, who writes on the topics of psychology degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: miller.tara23@gmail.com.

 

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