Whether you’re a fresh graduate or a mid-career professional, expanding your knowledge on the job market can build career resilience and adaptability. You will get better at finding the right jobs, keep them for longer, and get hired much more easily.
Similarly, you can apply the new knowledge at your current job, improving the quality of your work.
The first benefit is discovery. Learning about different industries or roles can open doors to passions and interests worth exploring in your career and shed insight into possible future jobs.
Secondly, your ability to adapt and innovate will improve. Diving deeper into different industries and their practices could inspire you to suggest novel approaches and even motivate you to take risks again.
Finally, you can leverage this knowledge if you’re at a crossroads in your career and want to venture into a different job scope or organisation.
1. Absorbing information through various information channels
Begin learning about a new industry or function with a clear mind, few expectations, and an appetite for information. Your mind should be focused on researching and reading as widely as possible.
Starting from scratch means you have the freedom to go where your interests take you. Reading, listening, and watching — these are excellent ways of absorbing the general information you’ll need to form a picture of the industry or role you’re interested in.
Obtaining a basic understanding of an industry takes several weeks of gathering information from a host of sources. From online trade publications and books to podcasts, there is something for every learner today. Leverage these tools to learn more about the industry you are keen to join or make a jump to.
Over time, your questions around the industry or role in question will also change. You could be more invested in some aspects more than others, and that is completely normal!
2. Network with professionals in the industry of interest
Armed with some working knowledge, you may now have a specific direction to explore. Networking has been and will always be an essential part of corporate culture.
A good network can offer information about employers, advice on professional development, and insight into different industries and jobs out there.
Identify professionals in your network who are already working in the industry or job function you’re inquiring about. You could send specific questions and probe areas of interest by starting conversations with them. If time permits, you could either reconnect or make new connections with professionals in coworking spaces, start-ups or trade events. There is also the option to have a virtual Zoom call and reconnect on LinkedIn if you’re strapped for time.
Set up an informational interview or schedule an informal coffee catch-up if you’re on closer terms with them. This way, you’ll get information that would otherwise be lost if not for experience garnered from working in the industry itself. Just like the preliminary research stage, your questions will evolve over time, so it’s a good idea to stagger these conversations within a longer period.
Keeping close contact with your network also leaves room for future opportunities, whether they’re for a job vacancy or for more information.
3. Volunteer or participate where possible
One of the best ways to learn is by doing. Although volunteering or participating in the role or department of interest may not always be an accessible option, it’s worth a shot if there’s an opportunity to. Start by getting in touch with the individuals working in said department and offering your services where they may need help.
For instance, if you’re curious about social work, volunteering at animal shelters or non-profit organisations lets you gain firsthand experience of what the industry is like. If you have the chance to work on a cross-functional project at work, it’ll serve as a platform to explore what other departments do as well.
4. Find a dedicated mentor
Having a mentor from your current industry provides clear benefits: coaching, skills development, and career goal setting. That said, a mentor outside your field can give you an immeasurable perspective unlike any other.
A dedicated mentor from a different industry or function can help gain new perspectives, so you can learn about the challenges, opportunities, and skill overlap found in other industries. Hearing about different approaches can encourage you to break out from your comfort zone and try new things.
Learning something new will always be a challenge, even for the most experienced professionals. However, it shouldn’t deter you from diving deep into a new interest. From refining your job search to improving your current skillset, finding out more about other industries and roles can open many doors for your career.