Your Career

5 Tips for Communication Professionals Jumping Into a New Subject Area

Credit: istockphoto.com/ferrantraite

Everyone knows the old warning about a jack of all trades. But a question facing many in the communication profession is: “Can I switch sectors and maintain my credibility?” Now may be the best time to experiment.

Communication skills are in high demand. HubSpot 2020 research shows that 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. Conductor’s 2019 Inbound Marketing Job + Salary Guide observes that “market value for content marketing and SEO skills is increasing.” And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that media and communication occupations are estimated to grow 4% until 2028, with about 27,600 new jobs.

“If you want to learn something new, realize you are doing a cha-cha with your career. Take a couple steps back, learn and continue to progress.” —Arti Bedi Pullins, founder and CEO of Pundit Consultanz

Arti Bedi Pullins, founder and CEO of Pundit Consultanz, a business strategy and innovation consultancy firm, says it’s common to switch content areas. “For Gen Z, Gen Y, millennials, this idea of movement, switching and jumping in is a lot more frequent.”

Minda Harts, CEO of The Memo LLC and author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table, lived this firsthand. “I started out as an administrative assistant and learned to tell a new career story to articulate my value and quantify my value add to a new industry,” she says.

Pullins and Harts offer five tips on successfully switching from one industry to another:

1. Craft a compelling story. The first thing you need to do is understand your own career story. Then you can determine how to deliver it. “How are your current skills transferable to the new role you want to pivot into?” asks Harts.

2. Learn the language. “Research the terminology used in your desired industry and see how your current skills align. It’s up to you to convince the hiring manager how your skills are relevant for this position and your unique value add,” Harts says.

3. Do the homework. Pullins recommends you start by reading publications and journals in the area where you want to specialize. If you are changing your core skills, do skills training and education, and spend time learning on YouTube. “Shadow someone, ask if you can meet, talk, gain knowledge on day-to-day operations,” Pullins says.

4. Build the bridge. Identify the areas of connection and commonality between the two sectors. For instance, “in a switch from health care to hospitality, there are some core must-dos, but you have to understand the bridge that connects what you do to your new area,” Pullins says.

5. Don’t be afraid of the dance. “If you want to learn something new, realize you are doing a cha-cha with your career. Take a couple steps back, learn and continue to progress,” says Pullins.

But Pullins says professionals must do their research before committing to a switch: You don’t want to jump to a new field only to find out later you hate it. By taking the time to thoroughly research the new sector you want to join, making connections and constantly reevaluating your progress, you’ll be able to jump into your new beginning with confidence.

Michele Weldon

Michele Weldon is a journalist and author of six books, an assistant professor emerita of journalism at Northwestern University and senior leader with The OpEd Project.

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