Economy & Jobs

How to Make a Career Change When Moving to a New Area

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Thinking about moving to a new state? Among your many considerations, such as finding a place to live and making new friends, you’ll also need to secure a job. But what happens if you want to make a career change? How can you enter a new field in a location where you may not have solid contacts or a strong network?

Accept a Lateral Move

First and foremost, accept that you may need to make a lateral career move.

Twenty years ago, a lateral career change would have been derided. Conventional wisdom argued that these maneuvers were like hitting the pause button on your career. These days, however, careers are likened less to a ladder and more to a jungle gym. Rather than trying to move up a rung, you can demonstrate your flexibility by climbing sideways or even down to a new position in another field.

A lateral move may be just what you need to enter a field or industry that ignites your passion and offers you better growth opportunities. Lateral moves are also one of the best ways to enter a new industry without needing to return to college for another degree.

Once you’re comfortable with the prospect of making a lateral move, how can you best present yourself to employers?

How to Get Hired in a New Field

  • Emphasize your transferable skills. Even if you haven’t worked in the specific industry you’re targeting, you have developed skills in your current industry that you can use in a new position. Perhaps you’re strong at project management, running a team, responding to deadlines, or understanding cross-disciplinary integration. Use your cover letter and interview to show how your experience translates into the new industry. If you’ve worked as a journalist, for example, then emphasize how those skills will help you be successful at public relations or marketing.
  • Showcase professional development. During your interviews, bring up any career-focused development you’ve undertaken, whether it’s a continuing education class, freelance or consulting work, or a project you spearheaded that’s outside the scope of your current job.
  • Find your network. You may be new to town, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know anyone. Facebook and LinkedIn are invaluable tools to start building a network in your new state. You’ll be able to identify if you have any local “friends of friends” who have useful contacts in your new field.
  • Understand the business. Apply to companies that need a wide breadth of skills rather than those that rely on high levels of specialization or operate in a silo. You may not be able to become a programmer overnight, but perhaps you can move into the operations division of a tech firm. Small and midsize companies, in particular, need versatile employees with a wide variety of skills. Focus your job search on companies where employees wear many hats.
  • Look for growth. You’ll improve your odds of landing a job if you apply for opportunities at expanding enterprises. Read the news to see which companies have recently announced a new round of funding or plans to build a new facility. Bear in mind that some states and cities have more job opportunities than others, particularly those locations that don’t charge state income tax. If you’re trying to simultaneously move and change careers, you may be better served by moving to such an area.

Moving and shifting your career path are big steps on their own. Together, they can feel overwhelming. Remember why you’re making these changes and how much brighter your future will be after you’ve settled into your new home and job.

Paula Pant is the founder of award-winning website and a journalist and blogger specializing in personal finance, real estate and lifestyle design. She has been featured more than three dozen publications, including Forbes, DailyFinance, Marketplace Money, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, and many more.