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How to Choose a New Industry

By Hannah Morgan

As you begin to navigate your job search, you may notice a scarcity of posted jobs like the one you used to have. Or perhaps you are feeling burned out and want to try something new.

One choice is to change the type of job you are looking for. The other is to take your transferrable skills into a new industry.

A New Industry >> A New You

As your guide, I want to stress these two points as you begin to prepare or re-design your trek for a new job.

  1. You need options
  2. You don’t know what you don’t know

Having options, or perhaps just seeing opportunities that interest you, will allow you to feel more in control of how you navigate your job search.

I’ve heard first-hand accounts and read reports which point out the large number of people who have been categorized as "discouraged" because they have stopped claiming unemployment. This doesn’t have to be.

You may feel like there aren’t any jobs out there similar to your last one. One of the best things you can do is evaluate new options rather than hold out for what once was.

The second point is about learning. There is so much you don’t know about other industries because you were busy holding down your last job.

Industries have been growing, shrinking, or morphing, and new types of jobs are created. Generally, this information is known only to the people with ties to the industry. This is why you will want to tap into some of the news from other industries.

What Industries Are Changing?

Perhaps a better question to ask is which industries aren’t changing. Here are just several examples of changes occurring within industries.

  • Within the health care industry, medical records, images and other data will soon all be housed on computers as a way to make this information easier to share. This has opened up a whole new world of electronic medical records management and increased the demand for IT professionals in this industry.
  • Another growing trend is "Green." It is creating new opportunities in many different industries, from alternative energy solutions to reducing personal and corporate carbon footprints. [See Job-Hunt's "green jobs" section for more information.].

Still another example can be found as you look at how social media is being adopted by advertising and marketing and almost every other business across all industries.

But Where Do You Start?

First, you have to be ready to keep an open mind. There is no map to guide you. This exploration is based on your values, skills, and interests. Therefore, you need to be confident about what abilities you have to offer. Then, you are ready, willing and able to commit to having discussions with people in new territories and industries.

The assessment of your interests, values, and skills comes into play here - mixed with a bit of creative thinking. Skim through this listing of industries, and see which sound interesting.

Here are some examples of industry changes I have seen:

  • Manufacturing to Non-profit
  • Education to Government
  • Manufacturing to Advertising
  • Telecommunications to Consulting Services
  • Aviation to Communications

How Do You Get Started?

You might find that even selecting a new industry can be challenging. You may need to enlist the help of someone who you respect or even a professional coach who can walk you through some of this creative brainstorming. Your goal is to select one or more industries that may have the potential to utilize some of what you have to offer.

This is a simplified listing of industries from the U.S. Census Bureau website. (The two-digit number is part of the NAICS code, the North American Industry Classification System). Every company is classified into an industry. To dive deeper into the industry, click on the number. For Example

51 Information
52 Finance and Insurance
54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
56 Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services
61 Educational Services
62 Health Care and Social Assistance
72 Accommodation and Food Services

Once you have several new industry options, you can begin to research them online through professional associations ( has a listing here), trade publications and most importantly, speaking with professionals within those industries. But remember you are not fishing for a job yet- you are seeking information.

Tell them what you are trying to do and why. For example, you are investigating new industries based on your desire to find professionally and personally rewarding employment.

Forewarned Is Forearmed

The realist in me needs to point out one thing. Transferring into a new industry, especially when the job market is as competitive as it is now, can be tricky, even extremely difficult.

As you do your research and have conversations, you are trying to determine how your experience and skills correlate to this new industry.

  • Which of your transferable skills will apply?
  • How is your past industry similar to this new industry? And how is it different?
  • What is the industry jargon.
  • What knowledge/skills/technology are you missing?

If you have missing skills or knowledge, can you volunteer somewhere or take some classes that will help you fill the gap?

Bottom Line:

By creating options and learning as much as you can about a new industry, the objective is for you to feel empowered and optimistic about your future opportunities. Changing industries can be challenging, even frightening, but seldom impossible.

About the author...

Hannah Morgan, Job-Hunt’s Social Media Job Search Expert, maximizes her own personal branding and online visibility using social media platforms. She is a job search strategist and founder of Follow and connect with Hannah on Twitter (@careersherpa) and Facebook (Career Sherpa). To read more articles on how to use social media for job search, visit her site:

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