Industry Switchers, Prepare to Be Grilled

Any job search -- especially one in the senior ranks -- is based on two basic questions: What do you want to achieve, and what are you willing to change to accomplish that goal?

Most folks consider compensation, security and personal satisfaction when identifying their next goals. In exchange, they may need to change the parameters of their job description by following opportunities to new places -- either literally by changing geography or figuratively by switching their function or industry.

In a piece titled "Why Recruiters Resist Industry Switchers," TheLadders takes a look at the challenges senior executives face in making that industry switch. High on the list: the reluctance of recruiting professionals to endorse their candidacies.

Never forget that recruiters work for hiring companies, not job seekers, and their own professional reputations depend on satisfying the precise requirements they're given. Lynn Hazan of Lynn Hazan and Associates, a Chicago executive-search firm, said "fussy-client syndrome" can even eliminate candidates with 20 years' experience if the job calls for 15. Consider how much more difficult it is for recruiters to convince a client to take a chance on a candidate whose resume doesn't even match the industry!

"If you're in manufacturing and you hire someone from retail and they fail, you fail," said Carole Tomko, executive vice president and partner of the Woodmansee Group. "If you hire someone from a competitor [in the same industry] and they fail, it's (the job seeker's) failure."

So what's an aspiring industry switcher to do? Recruiters offered TheLadders a list of ways to improve your odds, including focusing on your transferable skills, focusing on the value you can bring to the position and networking with professionals already in your target industry.

One piece of advice that jumped out at me: "Don't make your personal choice the employer's problem." You may be focused on your own need to move to a more vibrant industry, but make sure your cover letter, resume and elevator pitch all focus on what you can do for the company, not what you hope it can do for your career.