6 Inspiring Tips on How CMOs Can Transition to a Different Industry

Here’s the reality; it’s easy to switch from one company to another company in the same industry as a top executive. But no one is going to quickly layout a golden brick road for you to transition into an entirely different industry, especially if it’s an industry you never worked in before.

You’ve worked in the same industry for a long time. You want a change. No, you need a change. You hear the little voice in your head questioning whether or not you should stay where you are or take a risk with your career. Deep down, you already made the decision- it’s time for something new.

You didn’t become a top executive leader by chance. You had a road map, you stuck to it, and you worked hard. It can be a good idea to challenge yourself and try something new. Changing careers, especially as a CMO, is challenging. With the fast pace of change in marketing, today’s CMOs must demonstrate value within the first 100 days. Below, we will discuss the six ways on how you can transition to a different industry as an executive head of marketing:

1. Ask Yourself Why First

Simon Sinek once said, start with the why. In his case, Sinek was referring to how businesses should market to consumers. The same concept is applied to candidates when job searching. You are marketing yourself to hiring managers and companies as a potential asset. Ask yourself why? Why do you do what you do? Why do you want to change industries?

Be honest and realistic with yourself. Ask yourself, why take the risk with your career? Is the grass greener on the other side? What intrinsic motivation is pushing you to change industries? Leverage the reason why you want to change and align it with the core values of your ideal industry or company.

Rarely would CMOs switch to entirely different industries, such as from consumer packaged goods to B2B Enterprise Software. The exception to this is if a B2B company decides to market themselves like they are B2C company, as a go-to-market strategy.

2. Change Your Story

 Inspiring Tips on How CMOs Can Transition to a Different Industry

According to Forbes, If you want to switch careers successfully, you need to change your narrative. “To get any position you want, you have to package your experience in a way that resonates with the hiring manager and company.”

When transitioning into a new industry as an executive leader, you don’t have the advantage of years of industry expertise. All of your certifications, clients list, accomplishments might not be enough to win over the executive recruiters and company.

You must create a new story that emphasizes your values and unique skills you bring from your previous roles. Specifically, how is your background better than someone coming from their industry, what do you bring to the table that they cannot? If their industry is full of me-too marketing, coming from a different industry can be an advantage. You need to determine your competitive edge and how you plan to massage it.

3. Be Aware of What You Don’t Know

Be aware of any stereotypes about an industry, hidden assumptions, and any specific skills sets. As a CMO, your time is short; you don’t always have time to attend event related events or meetups. Find easy and quick ways to learn about a different industry by:

  • Listening to podcasts while sitting in traffic
  • Read a short blog posts
  • Follow industry opinion leaders on social media platforms

Every CMO is responsible for increasing the bottom line and driving ROI. Take your experience in one industry with a grain of salt as you try to transition into a new industry.

Remember, it is common to feel uncertain about what you don’t know and what isn’t familiar. The goal is not to allow that fear to create roadblocks for pursuing a new opportunity.

4. Use Your Social Capital

As a CMO, you spent years building and expanding your network, which will be a crucial asset to your career switch. Payscale estimates 85 percent of open positions are found through networking. Reach out to your colleagues, business partners, and reliable contacts you developed relationships in both related and adjacent industries.

It’s also essential to work with a top marketing executive recruiters with experience vetting top talent and who has an insider’s understanding of today’s marketing disciplines and functions.

Executive recruiters can understand who you are and what you do. At MarketPro, we all former marketers by trade and training, which allows us to understand your business pain points and marketing needs from a firsthand perspective.

By broadening your network and working with marketing executive recruiters, the results will open doors to new opportunities.

5. Leverage Your Transferable Skills

You spent the last twenty years or more becoming an expert in your field. Think about what you did to be successful in your career? How did you guide and nurture your team to collaborate and achieve your company’s goals? How did you optimize the customer experience?

Identify the top 3-5 value-add skills you bring to the table from your previous roles.

Next, think about the specific accomplishments in your previous positions, according to Forbes, that “…demonstrates your ability to take on the responsibilities in your ideal position.”

Furthermore, seek out companies who need the skills you have to be successful. Can you apply that same marketing methodology and tactics?

6. Find Companies Who Want Outsiders

Not every company is looking for a marketer that comes from their industry. As the top executive search firm for senior-level marketing, we place talent in companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Over the last twenty-three years, we’ve seen clients want marketers from outside their industry because the company wants to hire the best marketer. Some of these companies have been so traditional in their marketing efforts; it caused their marketing to fall behind and not be up to par. These are the companies you might want to consider.

Final Words

You didn’t become a CMO by chance. You took risks that catapulted your career further. Although changing jobs into a new industry is more challenging than changing companies, it’s the very delicate nature that makes it exciting and rewarding. If you’re going to commit to transition into another industry, continuously self educate yourself before and after you sign the offer letter.

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