5 Things to Consider When Changing Industries.
As a recruiter specializing in the Oil and Gas recruiting, I am often asked by people with little to no O&G experience about breaking into the industry. Below are a few methods I have seen in practice that actually work. Unfortunately, there is not a textbook, easy answer. Still, I will list a few things to consider when entering this field. Generally speaking, I also feel these principals could be applied to any industry.
1. PICK A TARGET AND FOCUS
The first question you want to ask yourself is “what is important to me and why”. I hear a number of reason for wanting to switch industries ranging from “more money” to “more prestige.” I also talk to candidates who want to make a change because they have a friend in the business that loves his/her job, makes mega dollars, is living the dream etc. Of course, who wouldn’t want this? But you must realize the grass isn’t always greener. Who knows? That friend may be secretly wondering how to break into your industry. The reality is that in our journey to find something with meaning, that we love and that parents can be proud of, we very often “fall” into a position/industry along the way. At some point we must calibrate our careers and refocus.
Job seekers have numerous motivations for seeking career changes. For many, it often comes down to compensation. The people who ask me about Oil and Gas usually know someone doing financially very well. What they may not realize is that different areas and different positions within the industry could have wildly varying compensation ranges. Although specialized positions are highly compensated, not all positions have the same compensation level. Specific companies and geographic location can also affect the salary range and can have wide variations. Finally, you need to understand some of the downsides. Often, higher level positions require relocation, long hours, and working in desolate or “hostile” locations. Before you decide to jump in completely, do your research!
Once you are convinced and committed to making a change, I would advise you now to stick to it. As a recruiter, I like to see candidates that show focus, are committed and have a demonstrable record of achieving their goals
2. MAKE CHANGE A PRIORITY
To reach your goals, do something every day to make you more valuable. Take advantage of training (both formal and informal). If it is available, train in areas outside of your core responsibility. If your company collaborates with a college to offer specific degrees, take full advantage of it.
To really make a full evaluation, you’re going to need some self-reflection. You will need to determine if this is something “nice” to do or is this something you “need” to do. There is a big difference in these two words, and that will help you determine your motivation level. Those that feel the former will have a hard time taking the steps to move forward. We all have the same 24 hours in a day to work with so what are you willing to do extra to work toward this goal. Keep in mind that whatever it is, you will be giving up something in return (time with family, etc.). Are you going to school? Well there goes the evenings and weekends. Are you doing collateral duties at your current job to gain leadership experience? You just added time to your day to perform your main job. If this is something you “need” to do, you won’t concern yourself so much with the sacrificing you are making to advance your career.
3. TAILOR YOUR RESUME
To grab the recruiter’s attention in this new industry you want make sure your resume shows your vision and that it sends a message that you have experience that parallels the roles you are applying for. By this point, you should have done your homework and looked at job descriptions online of the industry positions you are targeting. Without embellishing or Heaven forbid lying (the cardinal sin of resume writing) you should craft your resume to have the same feel and key words that the description has.
4. BE WILLING TO START OVER OR TO START AT A LOWER LEVEL
Companies seem to always have entry level pathways. Positions could include being an administrative assistant or a mail room clerk, just to name a few. It is good to seek these positions out, because they can lead to better opportunities within the company. It is imperative that you do your job to the fullest extent, but you should also approach the position with the idea that you can be more than then just that particular position. Don’t become complacent and lose focus, just utilize the position for what it is: a pathway to a greater opportunity.
5. KNOW SOMEBODY
I associate with a guy, that up until recently, thought he was a car salesman. Turns out he is now a landman with a major oil and gas exploration and production company. My first question to him was “you knew somebody right?”. My assumption was 100% accurate. Turns out he had a contact in the company, who was willing to take a chance on him. Had he applied blindly to the position, chances are, it would have been slipped into a “declination letter” basket (because his resume would be highly unlikely to have searchable terms that would have triggered the company’s software; and even then, it’s doubtful that the internal recruiter would have read it). It’s important to know people, if you are focusing and making a change like this. Get out and meet people. Volunteer with groups that have charitable functions sponsored by industry leaders. Attend the open houses (not just job fairs). Get involved. It is critical you meet the people that make decisions. And do it in a non-threatening, non-stalking manner (another Blog Topic). Another point from my corporate recruiting days is that my hiring managers had some autonomy with the candidate, when they wanted to move forward with a hire. I may have been left scratching my head with their selection, but I would nevertheless comply with their wishes as long as they met our basic hiring criteria. The larger your network, the better chances of meeting someone with authority in the hiring process. If nothing else, find a mentor. Find someone in the industry that can introduce you to the key players and help you overcome hurdles.
The point is that without a title or experience, it’s tough to break into any industry that is new to you, but it is by no means impossible. As a recruiter, whose job is to evaluate candidates, my safest conclusions are that past performance will be the best predictor of future performance. Without the history, I have to make some assumptions and look for parallels. Truthfully, it is easier for me to go back and comb through my resume database to find someone that resembles the job description. That being said, I appreciate people who exert the effort to move forward in their career. I like to see focus and someone who is prepared to answer the tough questions. It isn’t easy, but with enough effort, a change like this can certainly be accomplished.