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How to position yourself for a role outside your industry

Photo credit: Jessica Arroyo

There’s been an uptick of people looking for positions outside their industry. Nearly everyone I speak with has been actively looking for a domain change.

You’ve come to the right place.

As technology has transitioned from cost center to revenue driver, hiring managers are looking for new types of talent to bring fresh ideas to the table. This openness is what I love; understanding a client’s fundamental business shift and presenting candidates from the non-obvious places.

Here’s the thing. When speaking about your background you’ll have to lose the industry jargon. What sounds impressive to you and your peers may simply not resonate if the listener isn't living and breathing your current world. The person you’re talking to may not be drawing the correlations that are so obvious to you. This is especially important in the B2B/institutional world when oftentimes the interviewer has never personally interacted with your brand.

My advice: Describe yourself in themes. What is your fundamental skill set that translates well to the industry you’re going after?

Start here: Think of your proudest moment. I know there are many. What are you known for? Once you have that, think about what you walked into and where everything ended up. Then think about the themes that correlate with that transformation, minus the industry-speak. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Data

  • Digital

  • Customer

  • Talent/people leadership

  • Influence

Every company has a story that relates. Then there’s the next level of detail:

  • Regulation and privacy: These are relevant across industries such as financial services and healthcare.

  • M&A: This exists in every industry, and what you bring to the table here matters. Did you wrap your arms around a global culture, product, or customer? Bring efficiencies? Streamline process?

  • Vertical vs Horizontal: Recruiters and hiring managers need to mentally place you in an org chart to understand where you thrive. Do you drive change within a specific line of business or are you working across an enterprise?

  • The underlying technology journey: Companies constantly shift the pendulum between centralized and decentralized engineering practices. Every company has a data journey, and some are similar to others. These themes resonate. How was technology set up, and where did you drive it to? How? Why? What was the impact?

  • B2B, B2C, B2B2C: Thinking about your overall relationship to your customer, and if that’s direct or through another company’s platform. How has it evolved?

As always, I recommend you start high level with a two minute answer, and provide the next level of detail if needed. Then when a hiring manager or recruiter hears your story they’ll think “That’s exactly what we’re going through!”

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