How Do Engineers Jump From One Industry To Another?

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As many research and news media have said, the current job market is hot. More and more mechanical, electrical and manufacturing engineers are taking advantage of this by exploring options within multiple industries.

But how to make the jump from one industry to another? Here’s a blog post from GrabCAD.com, a website where members of the CAD community can share tips and projects with each other, on how to effectively make an industry jump:

So you want to jump industries, eh? Well there’s no time like the present. Jump. Jump now.

There was a time when engineers worked at the same company forever, constantly and meticulously specializing into increasingly narrow yet deep knowledge domains, moving up the technical ladder as a subject matter expert over four decades and then drawing a hefty pension in return for all that dedication. While that is still possible, it’s certainly less common. Specialization is key to engineering know-how and execution, but an endless chain along one line of specialization can sometimes be a weakness in itself, because of that darn technology.

As much as shortening corporate lifecycles and increased focus on quarterly results has eroded things like pensions, technology itself has broken the specialization cycle, thanks to technology driven disruption.

You don’t want to be specialized in something that gets left behind.

A fond expression used by many an engineer involves how many hats they have to wear on a particular project. Each hat is a specialization. These days, engineers have to wear more hats more often. If you’ve only got a couple of hats, you need to find a few more new hats and wear them. The hats you’re looking for are hats that apply both in your current industry and your target industry.

Practical tips for practical jumping:

  1. Build a network: You need to know people in the your target industry. It’s harder than networking in your industry where you are all at the same conference. Go to general mixers or hit your local startup scene for a nice cross section of industry representation.
  2. Tailor your resume: Too many people take one version of their resume and give it to everyone. You have to tailor your resume so that each experience is painted along that narrative often on a company-by-company basis. Sometimes this takes significant work and seems like a hassle – but you’re documenting your defining path. But don’t get too creative, everything on there needs to be the truth.
  3. Software is eating the world: consider some level of software development regardless of where you’re coming from or where you’re going. Because software is everywhere. Not that you plan to be #1 coder, but the more you know about what’s going on, the better.
  4. Buck the system: Yes, skip over ATS applications and endless jobsite search queries. Use your network to find opportunities. Come in through the side door.
  5. Go with a specialized recruiter: Executives do this all the time, and it’s something becoming more accessible to people with normal salaries. Consider finding someone to help orient you professionally and clearly define where you want to go.

Like Tip #5 said, recruiters are easily accessible and are knowledgeable on how your skills can be translated to different industries. Is making a career jump something you’ve been considering? Talk to one of our helpful recruiters at (408)246-5945 or (714)708-3639 today!

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