COVID-19 has flipped the workforce upside-down.

Manufacturing, travel and retail are just a few of the many industries most impacted by COVID-19. If you have a job in one of those affected sectors and are looking to make a sideways move, keeping a similar role but adopting a different industry is a tactful approach.

Changing fields in this way is a common career decision and one that recruiters and HR managers are familiar with. For example, over your career, you may have found your specialism in events marketing, and have been working in the creative arts industry. But with COVID-19 putting arts events like performances on hold, you may wish to transfer your specialist role to a new context, such as events marketing for e-commerce and SaaS.

Making a lateral jump between industries whilst keeping a similar role is a simple way to keep your career focussed but refreshed. Here are a few simple ways to position yourself as the top talent to succeed in the same role when job hunting, but in a brand new industry.

Self-reflect to ensure a transition is sensible

Switching industries isn't a decision you should make lightly. Whilst it's perfectly reasonable to slide into a different field and occupy a similar role, it won't come without a wave of change. There is an abundance of industries out there, and you need to make sure the one you choose to pursue is one you can realistically enter, and more importantly, one that you want to enter.

Speak with co-workers and friends to get their take on this potential career move. Try to identify if the move is the right decision and whether it will unlock what you're looking for.

Examine new industries' prospects

Once you're settled on the idea of pursuing pastures new, it's time to take a deep dive into different industries of interest and examine their prospects.

If your main motivation for making this career switch is COVID-19, then it's best to consider what fields are future-proof. For example, SaaS and e-commerce, health and fitness, and home are industries that are thriving right now despite the pandemic, so targeting one of those may be a safe choice.

Whilst browsing, look into average salaries for the industry and your target location, as they may differ from what you're used to. Turn to job boards and employment review sites like Glassdoor to gather this information.

Also, try to gauge the jobs market for vacancies in your target industry to see if there is a demand for new talent in the first place. Failing that, sign yourself up to a few relevant recruitment agencies and speak to recruiters about what they're witnessing in the field to identify if there are prospects out there for you.

It's also vital to cross-reference your current skill set with job listings of interest to see if you're up to par. Identify what skills you lack as well. If you're in no great rush to pursue a new opportunity, or you have some time on your hands, you might take on a new course in the meantime to give you the extra edge when you decide it's time to apply.

Reframe your CV to highlight why you're a fit

Once you've chosen the industry you want to enter, it's time to tweak and tailor your CV. This is not only to show that you're interested in this field, but also to represent your skills and experience in a way that proves your suitability to the role.

Start by updating your personal profile and owning the fact that you are changing industries and why this is a great opportunity for both you and the prospective employer.

Then show how and why you're a match for the role. Identify the keywords, qualities and requirements listed in the job description that you align with and pepper them throughout your CV. This will help you pass through the applicant tracking system.

Since this new opportunity is effectively the same role with a twist, you may find you're a close match. But if you're not, don't panic. This is where you can lean on demonstrating your transferable skills, such as communication, leadership and teamwork, which are desirable in every industry.

If you find you are growing overly reliant on transferable skills on your CV, rather than industry-specific skills, you may want to opt for a functional CV instead of a chronological CV as the structure highlights your core competencies – which may be more relevant when pursuing a career in a new industry.

If you feel this is too much of a risky move to handle solo, you can always rely on a free CV review to point you in the right direction.

Show you're qualified in the interview

Once you've made it past the initial screening phases, brush up your interview skills to maintain that vote of confidence and show you're qualified, despite being new to the field.

Interview preparation is essential, and the STAR method will see you through to success. Start by analysing your former field and the experience you gained throughout your time there, and pair it with your new industry. Then gather examples of how use exercised those skills, considering the situation, the task at hand, the actions you took and the end result.

Whilst you can play up similar skills, you must also show the prospective employer that you're aware you need to gain additional industry-specific skills. Pull together a game plan for gaining this critical experience and present it to the employer to show you're serious about this career change and the role.

It's also important to display your passion for this new industry to make it clear to the recruiter that you haven't taken this decision lightly. In preparation, research key brands and influencers in the industry, the company's position in the sector and its nearest competitors. Review latest news and trends to get a feel for the market at this time too. With this knowledge to support you, you'll show prospective employers you're serious about making a move into their field.

Finally, be prepared to explain why you're making a career shift. Develop a sensible narrative that will reassure the employer that you're not a flight risk. Don't harp on about the negatives of your former career path as you do this. It's OK to mention that there was a lack of opportunities, but adopting a negative attitude is likely to do more harm than good.

Final thoughts

All businesses are aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy and people's jobs. But the jobs market is open and there are industries that are thriving, so if you're looking to make a move in your career in a bid for greener grass, stay confident, think smart and get creative throughout your job search. Your next career step may well be in an industry you've never considered.

CV writing is difficult when you're trying to switch industries. Get a free CV review to ensure that you're setting yourself up for success.

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