There’s no denying it, the world of work has changed. We will be faced with many more obstacles and it’s going to be tough, especially for those who are now trying to break into a new industry. I don’t want to claim to know what the current situation will mean for you, but would like to share some useful tips that may help you stay connected with the industry you’d like to join (or re-join). I do this in the hope that things will improve soon and you’ll be able to continue your quest to make your dream career come true.
If you haven’t read it yet, do give my ‘How to Move Into a New Industry’ post a read as well. There are some useful tips and it’s a good starting point before diving into the below.
With hiring freezes and uncertainty across the board, it’s hard, right now, to know what to do. That said, even in the best of times, it can take time and patience to break into a new industry. In my case, and under very different circumstances, it took me about three years to break into publishing. During that time, I didn’t just sit and wait. I was determined to make sure I used my time productively and prepared as best I could for when the opportunity to make my move came along.
So here are three things I focused on, which I feel might also apply to you today, if you’re keen to make that move, but there’s currently a global pandemic standing in your way.
- Connect with people – this is perhaps the most important one. Connections are everything both from a personal and from a professional point of view. Although lots of professionals are working from home at the moment, this is a very delicate time for many and you should be mindful of that, but I would encourage you to try to build as many meaningful connections as you can. Here are some virtual friendly ways you can connect with people:
- Social Media: this is the easiest way and the less time consuming for both parties as well. Following people on social media and interacting with their content is the easiest way to form some connections. It’s also great if you’re an introvert and aren’t a big fan of face to face networking.
- Virtual coffee: I’m a big advocate for people reaching out to others for coffees, especially when trying to form new connections in the professional setting. Keep in mind that people may not be available, but I think it’s worth you reaching out to ask if they may have 20 min for a virtual coffee. Just be sure to have some questions at hand, nobody likes to waste time, not even in lockdown.
- Email: I know from experience that getting some face-to-face (or video call in this case) time with busy professionals can be hard. If that’s the case, try reaching out over email (DM on Twitter/LinkedIn). There’s a lot you can ask and learn from a couple of emails. As above, make sure you have some good email-friendly questions ready and before firing them off, check that your contact is happy to receive them.
- Staying up-to-date – things are changing really fast and you have a chance to spot new opportunities that will inevitably come up once the situation improves. Take it from someone who is still fairly busy with work, I’m struggling to keep up with all the industry news (publishing & events) being shared at the moment. Keeping on top of this will also give you a better understanding of the industry you’re looking to join for the first time and help you to connect with more people who are already working in it. Some ways to stay updated are:
- Industry magazines
- Online communities
- Social Media (LinkedIn and Twitter are great for this)
- Industry blogs and newsletters
- Learn new skills/improve existing ones – I don’t want to encourage a culture of busyness, but if you’re finding yourself between jobs or with some extra time on your hands, perhaps take the opportunity to work on your professional skills and be creative with your learning. People are very open to ‘rough around the edges’ content, so experiment! Aside from the usual practical skills (social media, design, excel, etc…), some other ideas are:
- Public speaking: I know it seems like an odd one, but you can practice speaking in front of an audience by joining small virtual gatherings with other professionals or, for the bravest of you, join a live chat on IG or YouTube. I did this myself recently and it was quite interesting and gave me lots of good pointers to improve my skills in this area.
- Personal brand: having a strong personal brand can really help you stand out in interview but it also gives you a lot more confidence to go after your goals. Think about your strengths, your USPs and take this time to reflect on this. You don’t need to become the next Taylor Swift, but taking some time to think about your abilities will help you to focus and find your purpose. And that will get you one step ahead of most people.
- Networking: you can never be too good at this. We’ve been catapulted into a new way to network and I think there’s a lot of learning that we can all do on this.
I will be sharing some specific resources for anyone interested in publishing and events soon, but I hope this is a helpful starting point for anyone feeling a little lost.
Ultimately, please remember that what is happening is beyond everyone’s control so be kind with yourself and remember: this too shall pass!