Six Strategies for Career Changers

Six Strategies for Career Changers

If you’ve spent the past years working in the oil and gas industry, then you’ve probably enjoyed a high salary and seemingly excellent occupational outlook.

Unfortunately, plummeting oil prices have put an end to all of that. Over the course of 2015, the oil industry laid off more than 285,000 people worldwide. In Canada alone, the numbers were estimated at 40,000 direct jobs lost over the year. As Justin Fox points out in his Bloomberg article “Lost Oil Jobs Are a Drag,” the downturn has also caused significant job losses in retail, construction and hospitality as many workers are now leaving the boomtowns in the new oil regions.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who are out of work due to the downturn, you’re probably getting ready to enter the job market again. Since it may be unlikely to get another position in oil and gas for the foreseeable future, chances are you’re best off looking for employment in a different field or industry. When competing against people with specific training and experience in that field, it’s vital to find a way to make your own qualifications and experience relevant in order to stand out from the crowd.

The following strategies can help you make your job search an effective one:

Determine what field you want to work in. It’s advisable to choose an industry that’s expanding and relevant to your experience. For example, civil engineering, construction, alternative energy, automotive and high tech are all sectors looking for skilled workers. Depending on your interests, you can also look at completely different sectors, such as healthcare and IT.

Assess whether any of your skills are transferable. The skills you developed in your previous job might be transferable, meaning that you might be able to use them in a different position. For example, if you were a team leader on an oil site, then your leadership skills could work well in an IT setting. If you were a technician, then the automotive industry or high tech could use you.

Determine whose pain you can solve with these skills. According to Liz Ryan in her LinkedIn article titled “How to Switch Careers Without Starting Over,” you need to see how your skills can offer employers a solution to a problem. Let’s say you were a mechanic responsible for maintaining the pumps. Your skills are likely to be valuable to a range of employers who work with large machinery, including construction companies, logistics companies and even manufacturing firms. Look for positions with these types of employers that require your skill set.

Find out if you need additional training. In some cases, you might be able to hit the ground running and learn the specifics on the job. However, it’s best to be prepared to invest in additional training. This will boost your skills, plus, it can make you more attractive to employers. For example, if you want to transition into manufacturing, it can be smart to invest in a lean manufacturing certification. Of course, if you want to transfer to a completely different field such as healthcare, it’s imperative that you get the required certifications before you start applying for jobs.

Adapt your resumé and online profiles. Now that you know what kind of job you want and in which industry, adapt your resumé to highlight your transferable skills, as well as the most relevant experience you have. Make sure all of your online profiles reflect these changes, too.

Use your network. Examine your network to see if there’s anybody who could help you get a foot in the door in your chosen industry and/or company. Remember to be polite and professional, and always thank those who help you.

Transitioning to another field can be challenging. With these strategies, you can enhance your chances of successfully finding employment in a different industry or occupation that needs your skills.