How to Switch Industries in a Shifting Economy

Before you even think about how to go about upskilling or filling out online job applications, you need to make sure that you've selected the right industry to switch into in the first place.

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It's almost impossible to not notice the economic changes that have taken place over the last few years. Some sectors have emerged, some have died and others are just about treading water.

These changes were happening anyway, but the post-pandemic landscape has accelerated trends further, leaving many people wondering if it's time to jump ship and move to an industry with a more positive outlook. Even senior leaders aren't sheltered from all this — in fact, in my experience, they're often the most enthusiastic about a career change.

If that's the situation you find yourself in, here's a guide to making the shift you've been dreaming of.

Choosing the Right Sector

Before you even think about how to go about upskilling or filling out online job applications, you need to make sure you've selected the right industry to switch into in the first place.

The obvious booming sector right now is tech — it's not exactly a little-known secret that engineers and managers in this area tend to earn more than their equivalents from other industries. But not all technology-related jobs are made equal. For instance, many professionals are moving from more generic IT-based jobs to cybersecurity roles, a sector expected to grow 33% by 2030.

This year, there have been more job openings than at any time in history. The best part is that there are both technical and non-technical positions available, and solid training in IT will stand you in good stead to go far.

Another good bet is apps related to the sharing economy. You might think that the likes of Uber and Airbnb already have market dominance, but expect people to share far more than just car journeys and houses in the future.

Other industries that are booming across the U.S. and in need of non-technical managers include financial services (especially fintech), cannabis (in the states with specific legislation), healthcare (which is making use of technological developments) and real estate.

Although it's helpful to weigh up the prospects offered by different careers, beware of closing yourself up from new opportunities. The job market is dynamic, and casting a wide net can increase your chances of success.

Making the Shift

As someone with a senior-level career, you find yourself in a different position to someone who has only just begun their journey in a particular role. On the one hand, you'll have more to lose if you "start from scratch" doing something completely different. Notwithstanding, you'll be able to leverage all the experience and skills you've built up throughout your career.

Have a little brainstorming session to bring together ideas about your proudest accomplishments in past roles, from the number of people you managed to the amount of money you generated in a deal. Think about what kinds of results you achieved. Even if they're in a completely different industry to the job you're applying for now, there's a high chance that the skills you applied will be needed — be specific about the links and connections.

If you struggle to find a position that meets your expectations or you'd like to dip your toes in the water before you commit, consider trying your hand at being a consultant. Established, accomplished professionals are always in demand to give advice, and the flexibility of this route can allow you to experience many different industries.

Besides, you never know — you might end up enjoying your consulting or contracting work so much that you decide to continue working for yourself.

You could also consider building your personal brand or positioning yourself as a thought leader to help you get noticed by the right people and make the shift. If you have an impressive work history, people are more likely to listen to you, which can open up all kinds of doors (even in seemingly unrelated sectors).

Ready to Make the Switch?

When you've already reached a certain point in your career, it can seem particularly daunting to switch to another industry — especially in times of global uncertainty like the world we find ourselves in now. But don't let that stop you from pursuing your goals.

Often, it's the "tough times" when new industries emerge, boom and sprout successful companies, so it actually makes perfect sense to switch to a more profitable role in this, period. If things don't go to plan, the experience you have in your current industry means there's always the option of going back to what you did before.

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