What to Think About When Transitioning to a New Industry

Whether you are thinking of transitioning into a new area (for example from recruiting to marketing) or planning a move from another industry into a legal administrative position, there are a number of strategies that can help you to make a successful transition.  A key thing to keep in mind is that every industry, as well as every role, has its own lingo and core competencies.  If you understand what this specific industry lingo is and what competencies are required for the role, you then need to be able to “translate” how your prior experiences have helped you to develop the required skills. If you can use that unique language on your resume and clearly articulate how your skills can translate, your chances of landing the job increase dramatically.

Here are some proven recommendations used to help those making a career transition:

  • Know yourself:  Why are you interested in this field?  What skills do you enjoy using most and how will they be useful in this new role? 
  • Do your research:  Speak to professionals in the role, attend professional association events and research job descriptions.  Become familiar with key competencies and lingo.  For example, law firms do not refer themselves as companies, so don’t say on an interview with a law firm: “I am interested in your company because…” – use firm instead.  Some other words to watch for, in terms of lingo specific to law firm roles: use clients as opposed to customer; describe yourself as resourceful, not as creative; manage, not lead; describe results by explaining your process, as opposed to using numbers and quotas.
  • Develop your resume:  Make sure your resume describes what you did in a way that will resonate with someone in your target fieldA summary at the top of your resume could be a very effective way to highlight the core competencies you have developed and can bring to this new role from your previous industry.  Or, start your resume with a section called “Core Competencies,” with some bullet points or summary statement; because you do not have direct, formal experience in the area you are looking to transition to, you need to explain what you can bring to the table.


 It is definitely possible to make a career transition; you just have to make it easy for firms to see how you, specifically, can add value and make the transition. The more “homework” you do to prepare and show how what you have done in previous roles or industries can make you a valuable asset in the new role, the more likely you are to get the job.

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