Switching industries? Here’s how you can cope

An organised approach can make a career change easy and successful

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The very thought of ‘layoffs’ can be scary for any employee today. It is a term that no employee wants to hear during their tenure. However, this is the bitter reality that has truly manifested after the COVID-19 pandemic and the slowdown that followed. It impacted innumerable jobs and roles.

There are many online platforms today where people can seek jobs, says Tanasvi Mishra, former CHRO, Strides Pharma and VP & head of human resources at Endo International. It is easy for job seekers to set up an account and try to find a relevant job. Sometimes, they may find the perfect opportunity in the blink of an eye. Unable to return to the industries they were working in, layoffs sometimes force people to make a career change. However, a ‘career change’ is not as unusual or intimidating as it sounds. In fact, all it takes is an organised approach to make a career change easy and successful. 

Let’s take it a step at a time.

Identify area/industry of interest: “It’s always wise to identify one’s preferred industries,” advises Jasmeet Bhatia, CHRO, Thermax. He goes on to suggest, “Rather than going for any industry blindly, take some time to look for the ones you are interested in. This will give your hunt a direction and purpose, streamlining your search approach with your future goals”.

Rajesh Jain, CHRO, Welspun Enterprises, also agrees. “It’s important for people to identify roles and industries where they can fit in,” he says. As they already have some skills from the previous organisation, it’s best to look for industries or roles with similar requirements.

it’s important to be a generalist in an organisation if you’ve plans to work long there”

Rajesh Jain, CHRO, Welspun Enterprises

Pitch smartly: Know how to pitch your skills in the new setup you’re planning to work in. “It’s important to orient your CV highlighting the right set of skills, as this will serve as the ground to sell them to the employer and the HR,” points out Jain. 

Your CV or resume is the first thing that employers will notice. After all, it is from the CVs that employers gauge whether the candidate has the kind of experience or relevant skills they are looking for. Unless the employer invests time on your CV, you may remain deprived of precious exposure to new opportunities. And unless your CV is able to attract and hold your employer’s attention, its very purpose is defeated. Hence, it’s significant to add skills and qualities that you want people to know you possess.

Demonstrate/add value: Demonstrate how you’d be able to add value in the new setup. Generally, companies would only consider non-industry candidates when they’re looking to bring diversity into their teams. This diversity can be in terms of thoughts, perspectives and vision. You must be able to demonstrate and add value propositions in the new set up, adds Jain. 

You must be capable enough to link your previous experience to the requirements of the new place. “I’ve essayed various roles in my professional life, and each time I switched jobs, I made sure to demonstrate my previous learnings and present them at the new table,” explains Jain. 

Bhatia also agrees and says in a matter-of-fact way, “Merely obtaining a certification does not make you competent for the new role. You have to possess some experience to demonstrate it.” Therefore, it’s important to be aware how a day in the new role is going to be. Also, it is pertinent to mention how you’ve used a particular skill successfully on your previous jobs. 

“It’s always wise to identify one’s preferred industries”

Jasmeet Bhatia, CHRO, Thermax 

Be flexible: Rajesh Jain shares an interesting perspective. He says that it’s important to be a generalist in an organisation if you’ve plans to work long there. “People must be fungible and flexible at the same time,” Jain opines. Their previous learnings can surely bring something great to the new roles that not even a specialised person can bring.

For instance, a business partner may have limited knowledge of talent acquisition, but his/her BP role may help in looking at some different perspectives when the company is on-boarding a new employee. Such new perspectives or exposure cannot be expected from a specialised talent acquisition partner as their knowledge is limited to only that field.

Network: “Networking at senior levels also helps get you the right job,” says Mishra. When you have good connections, you can actually expect people to pitch for you in the new place as well. 

There are two parts to the story. The organisations that lay off their employees, also have some responsibilities towards them, says Mishra. “Since we all are a family, it’s our responsibility to help them with the best of our abilities,” she adds. She also feels that the company should give them (laid off employees) outplacements.

Networking at senior levels also helps get you the right job”

Tanaya Mishra, former CHRO, Strides Pharma and VP & head of human resources, Endo International

The company can organise skill training for their laid off employees. This will help them shaping their future goals or give them outplacements. They could also hire head-hunters and consultants to help the laid off employees get another job faster. “It’s not just about the compensatory benefits, but helping them with the journey,” says  Bhatia. As the corporate world is ever changing, people should always have a plan B. They should know how to sustain themselves if such a time comes and the organisation  has a major role in it.

On the other hand, as Jain observes, we are all on our own, and hence should always work to upgrade ourselves as we evolve with each role that we perform.

In today’s economy, job loss has become quite routine. Be it layoffs, technological disruptions, mergers, or reorganisations, people are facing harsh realities daily. However, as professionals, you must be prepared to bounce back and remain strong. Of course, this cannot happen overnight, but with patience and commitment, you can ultimately end up in a better place.

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