How to break into any industry

When thinking about what career to choose, what to follow or what to switch into, you will realise that a very critical part of the process involves breaking into the industry sector successfully.  Your personality, your degrees and qualifications are all important but sometimes that’s not all you need. You need to know what decisions to make, and what actions to take to enable you break in successfully. If you are a student, a recent graduate, or even simply someone looking to make a career shift into a different industry, then you need to understand a few basic things.

It’s not always about the degree

While you do need a college degree, what the degree is in, is not always the most important thing.  There are several other skills you need to cultivate. The ability to create and nurture healthy relationships both in the workplace and outside of it can significantly improve your chances of breaking into your chosen sector. Also being able to choose the right people to connect with. Let’s not forget the importance of having communication skills. It is true that certain job sectors may require specific degrees but a large number of jobs only require more generic skills like interpersonal skills, analytical skills, problem solving skills and more. The rest are often acquired through training. Find out what skills your chosen job sector requires and find ways to cultivate them. Demonstrate them on your resume and make sure you are able to explain how these skills will make you a great fit for your target sector.

Find the right entry point for your level

If you are a recent graduate looking to break into a specific sector, then research to find out what typical entry level jobs are for your chosen career path. An internship, a rotational posting in different departments to help you figure out what best suits you. Build a network in your target industry and put out the word that you’re looking to enter into the industry. Make sure your resume fits the role that is your target and be realistic about the jobs you apply for.

If you are trying to switch into the industry from an early point or even from a point that is half way into another sector, the approach is not very different. Again, networking is very critical to success. Thoroughly go through your personal and professional connections to find people who will help you get your foot in the door. Be direct in your approach, emailing or texting them about your intent and asking for a meetup. Keep your expectations in terms of positon and salary reasonable – this means that you shouldn’t expect a promotion or a much higher salary. It might be the sacrifice you have to make to actualise your career change. This might make you reconsider if the switch is really what you want.

Optimise your interview performance

When you get an interview for your target sector, do your homework. Do as much research as you need to find out all you need to about the company. Check the company’s career page, their linked in pages and their other social media pages to find out all you can about the work culture and other values. Be prepared to answer questions about the role you are applying for as well as behavioural questions. Find examples and practice as much as you can.

Use referrals

Wherever possible, use a referral. If you know someone in good standing in your target company, find out if they will vouch for you and use them. An internal reference always helps your case and might even be what makes you the final choice after the interview.

Honesty is always the best policy

As cliché as the saying is, honesty will help you go a long way career wise, especially when you are able to tell yourself the bitter truth. After an interview, if you don’t feel like the role would suit you, then it is better to try to find another industry or sector that would better suit your personality, skills and values. It’ okay to fall in love with an industry sector that doesn’t suit you but you need to tell yourself the truth so you can move on to a better option. Always ask for advice from experts on how to improve your interview skills and your other skillsets as you go.

As a recent graduate, or an early career person looking to break into a different sector, giving these ideas a chance will certainly help make the switch easier. The most important thing to remember is that it is not about the degree, it’s more about you and what you can do.

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