How to Welcome & Help Career Changers Entering Your Association’s Industry

Job-hopping is in the air right now. Career-hopping too. After two years of the pandemic, no wonder we’re more reflective about how we want to spend the rest of our 4000 weeks on earth. The Great Resignation is proof of the prevalent desire to rethink how we want to spend eight-plus hours a day.

The government doesn’t collect data on career changes but a Washington Post poll found that nearly 1 in 3 U.S. workers under the age of 40 have thought about changing their occupation or field of work since the pandemic began. 1 in 5 workers of all ages are thinking about a career change.

Your association should take advantage of this opportunity with campaigns and programs that attract professionals to your industry and help to alleviate staffing and skills gap issues. Cultivate relationships with career changers—your prospective customers and members—by providing the resources they need to learn new skills and find their way forward in your industry.

career changers, like this guy getting advice from a woman via his laptop

What do career changers need?

Guidance. Transferring skills from one career to another isn’t easy. Many recruiters and hiring managers can’t wrap their heads around the validity of skills and experience earned in another type of profession or job. Sadly, professionals entering a new industry often undervalue their existing skills and experience. They don’t know how to ‘sell’ their competencies, so they fall too far backwards on the position and salary scales. Career changers could use your association’s help in finding an abbreviated path to success so they don’t lose earning power.

Skills. No matter how transferrable someone’s skills are, the work will probably be different. Career changers must learn the ropes. Your programs can help them acquire new skills, learn how to apply their existing skills in new contexts, understand industry jargon and processes, and get a handle on all the unwritten but critical rules of business.

Network. Career changers left the bulk of their network behind in their old profession or industry. They’re starting from scratch again. You can help them develop a fast lane to a new network so don’t feel so lost and lonely in your crowd.

Association programs for career changers

Here’s how you can help professionals entering your industry with guidance, skills development, and network building.


Provide resources and programs that members can access for free, except for fee-based coaching services.

Career center. Help career changers better understand how to get ahead in your industry. Show them career pathway options. Provide a mix of on-demand and live programs on navigating a career transition, resume and LinkedIn profile development, using LinkedIn for their job search, and the importance of lifelong learning.

Coaching. Coaches guide new industry professionals through self-assessment tools, like CliftonStrengths. They help them understand how their existing skills and experience transfer to different career pathways. Coaches can help these professionals develop an education and certification plan.

Mentors. Help career changers find members who entered the industry as career changers in the past five years, ideally someone who’s around the same age. These pairs or groups can discuss what worked well during their career transitions.

career changers, like this woman getting advice from someone via her laptop


Offer educational programs that introduce new industry professionals to your industry and the skills they need to succeed. Your portfolio should include programs of different lengths and formats, so they appeal to everyone.

Career pathways. Any new or restless professional would benefit from understanding different career pathways in your industry. These pathways serve as lead generators for educational and credentialing programs. Here are a few examples:

•    My IT Path at CompTIA
•    Credentialing Career Pathways at the Institute for Credentialing Excellence
•    Professional Pathways at Educause

Introductory videos. Record a series of short videos about industry basics.

Email campaign. Set up a drip campaign of daily emails describing the best strategies and tactics for professionals entering the industry. Include a mix of advice, free resources, and recommendations for paid programs.

AMA meetups. Invite new industry professionals to virtual meetups featuring successful career changers who discuss what they wish they knew when they entered the industry, biggest surprises, and how they’ve benefited from membership.

Career introductory course. Design an on-demand course (use those videos!) built upon 10- to 20-minute modules that are easy to fit into someone’s stressed life.

Career transition bootcamp. The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants’ LNC Jumpstart is a half-day, virtual course for nurses entering their specialty.

Self-assessments. A self-assessment tool can help people determine what they need to learn to progress further along a career pathway. It can help them identify skills gaps and serve as a baseline for measuring progress. The results can direct them to relevant courses, webinars, and recordings.

Credentials. Offer credentials recognizing a basic level of competency in the skills required by various positions in your industry. Reward learners with digital badges along the way so they have something to show for their progress—and in case they’re not interested in committing the time required to earn the credential.

Reconsider the type of experience required for certification. Could some experience outside the industry qualify?


Support groups. Help new industry professionals find their people. Although many of them might compete for the same jobs, remind them that there’s enough for everyone. Schedule regular virtual meetups that combine brief presentations about industry topics/trends with lots of time for open discussion.

Volunteering. Encourage new members to volunteer—an enjoyable way to build their network.

Education programs. Build opportunities for conversations with fellow attendees into all your education programs—webinars, conferences, courses, and other in-person and virtual programs. When meeting in person, have a special badge color or ribbon for new industry professionals. Assign career changers a conference buddy who introduces them around.

Keep track of the people who take advantage of your career change programs. Follow up with them after six months to ask for their feedback, testimonial, and advice for career changers. Help someone make a successful transition into your industry and you can count on their loyalty.

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