This is a guest post by Cherie Cavazos.
Almost half of U.S. workers have been through a major career shift in their lifetime, going from one industry and position to an entirely different one. This is difficult in a normal work environment, but doing it remotely during a pandemic is even more challenging. I’ve done it successfully (at least, I’d like to think so), so even though it may seem like an insane move to make today, it’s totally possible.
People ask me how I could change industries during a worldwide health crisis. Really, I was prompted by a desire to learn something new — plus, the need to work and survive has an amazing ability to erase any ideas that may hold you back from accomplishing what needs to be done. It was a leap of faith, but I believed in my core skills, attributes, and mindset; I knew these would translate into a new role and make my transition easier.
This kind of awareness of your strengths is key for anyone considering a career change — pandemic or no.
Skills to Help You Make the Leap
According to the “Monster Future of Work: 2021 Outlook” survey, organizations are looking for people with soft skills who are dependable, collaborative problem solvers. These were abilities I had developed and sharpened in all of my previous positions.
As a former sales professional, I’ve talked to hundreds (if not thousands) of executives. Active listening was critical to understanding the problems they faced, of which there were many. I found that success meant offering valuable solutions and maintaining relationships. This experience was invaluable as I made the leap to my current role: an executive assistant supporting both the president/CEO and chief of staff of Jelmar.
In addition, I had hands-on experience in many different areas that help a business run smoothly — office manager, bookkeeper, project manager, executive assistant, and more. This experience, coupled with my service nature, made the career switch seem like a no-brainer.
Armed with soft skills like communication and a broad scope of experience — not to mention a grasp of various technologies and tools — you, too, will be able to transition to a new role outside of your industry.
How to Level Up
No matter where you are in your career, you can prepare to take on new opportunities, even if they seem dramatically different from what you’ve done before. Here are three strategies to find the confidence to switch industries:
1. Think outside the box. When I was a teacher, I set a goal to get a tenure-tracked position in two years. When that didn’t happen, I still needed to work and knew thinking outside the box was the answer to finding a new role. Before teaching, I worked in several corporate and business environments. Teaching didn’t make me lose those skills and, in fact, helped me to gain more of them. Instead of feeling stuck in my current industry, I was able to branch out and land an office manager position. Skills build on each other, and gaining skills in a seemingly unrelated industry doesn’t mean they can’t translate to a different role.
2. Leverage your talents. I’m often recognized for my soft skills and ability to work with diverse groups of people. When I changed from sales to my current executive assistant role, I had to market myself, showing how those talents were relevant, transferable, and valuable. This component of landing a new position takes an incredible amount of time and patience. It often can be draining and defeating. If this is where you’re at in the job search, don’t lose confidence! Your efforts will pay off if you keep promoting what you have to offer.
3. Don’t take “no” personally. Sales taught me more than any other job I’ve had how to put “no” into perspective. You shouldn’t let rejection stop you from trying to land a position. That word just means that people aren’t buying what you’re selling at the moment. Take it simply as feedback and an opportunity to learn something new and educate yourself. Don’t let “we’ve selected a different candidate” defeat you on your way to a “yes!”
No matter what challenges we face, in the middle of a pandemic or not, our ability to remain strong in the face of adversity, show value in our abilities, and dare to try something new and scary will lead to amazing opportunities. The value of these experiences will be exponential and prepare us to be ahead of the curve when the pandemic ends.
About the guest post author:
Cherie Cavazos joined Jelmar as an Executive Assistant, supporting President and CEO Alison Gutterman and Chief of Staff Jeff Pozen in the mission of reaching the company’s goals. Cherie has a wide background in marketing, education, and accounting. In addition, she has a strong command of the use of information management tools. Her focus on project coordination, organization, and executive support are assets to a company’s successful implementation of growth strategies.