Insights: Breaking into a New Role in a New Industry

By Jane Hollman | Principal Consultant, Hollman Consulting

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Submitted by: WISE Los Angeles member, 15+ years professional experience

How do you break into a new job role or industry after 15-plus years elsewhere with transferable skills? Are people willing to consider candidates from outside the industry? I am a college coach, but have always wanted to get into sports in another role. Are there any networking spaces, organizations or conferences that you have found to be valuable in making such a transition?


Great questions. As a coach, you are already working in the industry, so I am assuming you want to stay in sports, but do something else. First, in terms of networking groups, you are already apart of one - WISE. If you know what type of role you'd like to pursue, then start reaching out to other members in those roles and ask them questions about their work, such as how they got there. In addition, are there people at the college you coach for who are in the job you want or are connected to people who are? I always suggest asking people you know first, as they are often great sources of information. 

If you don't feel comfortable asking a colleague, then I would recommend finding people in the role you are targeting - LinkedIn works well - and contacting them directly. Tell them you are looking for advice on how to make the switch and ask them about their career path and for specifics about the job itself, which will do two things: First, you will learn more about whether the role is a good fit for you, and secondly, and importantly, you will make a connection. Remember to ask them who they would recommend you speak to as well. 

Also, connect with sports recruiters; they can be invaluable in helping you connect with opportunities. While it can be challenging to move into a different role within the industry, people are open to it if you network well and are able to speak to how your experience fits in with the job you want. If you think through the skills needed to be a coach (e.g. leadership, ability to organize and talent spotting) and can connect them clearly to the role you want, then you have a better chance of making the move. 

There are plenty of conferences, but you might like to see what is in your area first. The website Meetup may offer groups in that area of interest that offer functions to attend. 

Good luck!

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About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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