How to Break Into a New Industry

For more tips like the ones below, read ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel’s new book, Get Hired Now! You can buy it here

As Americans begin to enter the post-pandemic world, many are emerging with new priorities. For some, that means reexamining their career choices in search of more flexible work hours, more meaningful work, or simply something new.

But switching industries can be difficult—especially when the robots parsing your online resume, or the human hiring managers, do not see your past experience as directly relevant to their open roles. Here are a few ways to make it easier:

1. Be Realistic

While you can jump into some industries by acquiring online certifications, taking classes, or taking a pay cut, others may require more time, cost, or effort than you are able to sacrifice. While it isn’t impossible for someone in their 50s to change careers and become a lawyer, the amount of work involved in applying to a law program, balancing studies with home and work life, and starting at the bottom after years of schooling may not be realistic. But there are other opportunities in the field that require less investment, like becoming a mediator or paralegal. Be creative in how you think about getting into a new type of job and consider how past skills and experience may help get your foot in the door.

2. Explore New-Collar Jobs

There are many exciting and well-paying jobs that only require some specific education or training rather than a full college degree. Some of these “new collar jobs”—which include roles like drone pilots, photo editors, and information technology specialists—can be learned online in just a matter of weeks or months. Visit ZipRecruiter’s Course Catalog to find courses you can take in healthcare, education, design, information technology and security, marketing, and more.

3. Consider Freelancing

One way to gain real-world experience is by building out the skills you have in your field of choice by doing contract work. Last year, 36% of the U.S. workforce worked freelance in some capacity. Freelancing can help you build out your portfolio, make connections in the industry, and work with people who can introduce you to other clients and potential employers. The ability to make your own hours can also enable you to keep your current job, or take on multiple projects, while building skills. A good place to find clients is on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, DesignHill, and 99Designs. You might also be able to find industry-specific platforms by searching online.

Whether you graduated from school a few years ago, or have been working in your field for decades, making a career change can be exciting and lucrative, if you approach it the right way. Use these tips to begin the next part of your career journey!


Written by

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

More Articles by The ZipRecruiter Editors