Looking for a job outside your industry

I have five years of IT experience as a Business Analyst at a manufacturing company. The company just closed and I’m looking for a new job. Healthcare is big in this area where I live. How do I change industries from manufacturing to healthcare without starting over at the bottom?

This is a great question; thank you for asking. I love getting reader questions. After all, at the end of the day, this blog is about you not me.

There are questions to ask yourself when trying to change industries. They are:

1. What skills, knowledge, and experience do you currently have that is transferable to the new industry? 2. What skills, knowledge, and experience is needed in that industry? 3. What gaps do I have in my skills, knowledge, and experience (the difference between Question #1 and Question #2)? 4. What can I realistically do to fill in the gaps as defined by Question #3?

Now let’s discuss each question in a general way.

My thoughts on Question #1: • Your business analysis skills are very transferable. At the end of the day, strong business analysis skills are of value in all industries. • Like manufacturing, the healthcare industry is very strong on process. Therefore, any work you have done related to process analysis may be directly transferable. • Knowledge and/or experience you have in accounting, HR, marketing, inventory, or other general business functions may also be transferable. • If your previous employer was manufacturing anything related to healthcare, this could be a big plus for you.

My thoughts on Question #2: • You need to know the industry lingo, acronyms, government regulations, and hot trends within the healthcare industry. • You need to know about the vendors and technologies used within the healthcare industry. • Experience within the healthcare industry would of course be great. I’ll touch on this again in Question #3.

My thoughts on Question #3: 1. When looking at the gap analysis in Question #3, my thought, not knowing the specifics of your career experiences, are in two main areas; knowledge of the healthcare industry and professional experience related to healthcare. Question #4 below provides some suggestions in filling these gaps.

My thoughts/suggestions on Question #4: 1. Do Your Research: As I’m sure you know, you can learn an enormous amount about any industry by searching the web. Use this to your advantage by learning the industry lingo, acronyms, government regulations, and hot trends within the healthcare industry. 2. Use Social Media: Use LinkedIn and other social media tools to see if you have any friends, relatives, and/or old business acquaintances that worked or are currently working in healthcare. If so, they can provide you with a combination of industry background, industry knowledge, and potentially, contacts that can assist in your job search. 3. Go to IT-Oriented Industry Events: A great way to pivot yourself into a new industry is go to local industry events. It has many of the advantages of social media, but by being there in person, you get to make personal relationships, listen to the speakers, and learn almost by osmosis, just by being in the same room with people who work where you would like to go. 4. Volunteer: Regarding industry experience, it can feel like a Catch 22. That is to say, since you don’t have a job in the industry yet, you can’t get the experience you need to get a job. Offer to work for free for a short time (a month or so). They get free labor and you get a little experience and an industry reference. Also, if you are lucky and they like you, they may offer you a job.

In closing, the trick to changing your industry is to learn as much about the industry as you can, try to make contacts working within the industry, and be creative regarding finding ways to adapt your skills, knowledge, and experience toward the industry you are trying to enter.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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