Do you find yourself hating a job that you thought you would love? Or are you just not as passionate about your everyday workload as you thought you would be? Or maybe you just aren’t finding the same excitement you once felt about your job. Whatever the source of your dissatisfaction, an important thing to consider when deciding whether you need to move on (and where you should go next) is the industry you work in.
Think about the industry you currently work in (finance, healthcare, tech, construction, IT, fashion, etc.), what its characteristics are, what goals companies in it drive towards, and how that context fits your career goals. Here are some ways a career change focused on industry can improve your career.
What you bring to the table
The most important thing that changing industries can do for you and for your new employer is the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the table. Even a small shift, such as moving from traditional finance to financial technology, can result in an opportunity for you to bring an entire industry’s worth of unique input and knowledge for your employer to benefit from. This is especially pronounced in larger shifts, such as moving from politics to technology startups. The expertise you have can provide the type of insight an organization has been missing.
Switching industries will allow you to bring a brand new skillset to a company and shake up their work processes while enabling you to learn what things they do better or smarter in their own industry. You’ll grow as a professional, combining the best practices of your old industry with the best practices of the new one to the best effect. You can also bring along a rolodex of professional connections that, with a bit of creative thinking and partnership building, might greatly benefit your new employer. Finally, you’ll be giving your resume another pillar of expertise to stand on with this new experience.
What you do
An industry change can be a chance to start with a clean slate, one that you may not get if you’re known in your current industry for being proficient in a specific role. Every professional has traits that function effectively across industries, and even in rare cases in which a highly specialized role doesn’t exist in another industry, the skills used for that role are probably applicable in other positions.
The problem you’re solving
If you love the role you play but aren’t passionate about the work you do, you’re probably working on solving the wrong problem. An industry switch can be a great way to refocus your efforts on tasks that you can be proud of and projects you can enjoy doing. Job satisfaction doesn’t just come from having a job that allows you to use your full skillset. It also comes from working for a company doing something you have a sense of passion or drive toward.
While you might struggle at first to figure out what industry or category of organization appeals to you, think about your hobbies, services you use, or where your friends and family work. Think long and hard about what you could do that feels less like a job and more like a passion project.
The culture of the companies
It’s common for professionals who want an industry change to feel that way because of the culture of the companies they’ve worked for. Investment banking, for example, is a highly competitive industry that can often feel cutthroat to professionals who thrive in collaborative and cooperative environments. Working in the wrong industry often means working for companies that have the wrong culture for you, which is a career mistake that could cause you to feel like you don’t fit in at your workplace. Poor cultural fit often results in lost productivity for the employer and low job satisfaction for the employee.
So if your ideal company culture is one where every day is casual Friday, you probably shouldn’t be working in an industry that limits itself to just casual Friday. Figure out the type of people you want to work with at your next job. Analyze your company and industry for their attitudes toward cultural aspects you find important, such as work ethic, values, mission statements, and types of hires. Look at your fellow employees and other professionals in your industry to learn about the way they behave at work, both the good and the bad. Understand how your own attitudes and values fit into that mold, and if they don’t match up with your industry as a whole, find one that is a closer fit for you.