7 questions to ask yourself when selecting an industry for your next job

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I’m a Java developer, was recently laid off, and am now in the process of looking for a new job. Is there a specific industry, such as retail, that you would suggest I concentrate on?

As IT professionals we belong to one of the few professions that can work in almost any industry. I’m sure I’m not surprising you by saying that there are IT people working in health care, financial services, biotech, retail, construction, manufacturing, and about every other industry you can think of.

Ok, now to your question, the answer is it depends. When trying to choose the best industry for you to work in, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you have any non-IT experience in a specific industry?
This experience could be of value because you will understand the software applications you are building from the user/business perspective.

2. Do you have any educational credential, such as a biology degree or a stock broker’s license that relates to a specific industry?
Professional business-related credentials in your industry not only provides you with knowledge of the applications you are building, but it also helps give you professional credibility with those in the business-side of your company.

3. Is there a specific industry that is predominant in your geographical area?
This is important information for you to know because it relates directly to your future marketability where you live. What you will find as your career progresses, and you move to more senior positions, it gets harder and harder to switch industries. For example, because my technical background is primarily financial services, I am much more professionally marketable within financial services than I am in, say, biotech or retail.

4. Is there an industry you like the most?
My point here is that if there is an industry you really love, you might as well work in an industry that you find interesting.

5. Is there an industry where you have close, highly placed connections?
Very often in business it’s not only what you know, but who you know. Having personal connections in your industry can be very valuable to you professionally.

6. Is there an industry where the software applications you have worked on in the past are in high demand?
Depending on how long you have been professionally employed, the applications you have been working on in the past may be valued more in some industries than others. For example, if you have deep software development experience building patient billing systems for a hospital, this specialized experience will be most valued by the health care industry, somewhat valued within financial services, and less valued within manufacturing and biotech.

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