image by Andrea Peipe

Before you turn in your notice and send your previous job packing, you need to spend a lot of time researching the new company or industry you’d like to transition to. Get to know the expectations, culture and language. The best way to do it? Full immersion. Anytime you’re not engaged in your day job, spend your time on this research. The following is what you should focus on.

What Kind of People Are Being Held as Success Stories in that Company or Industry?

To start, find out who those in the company or industry look up to as icons or success stories. What have they done to get to that point? What are they doing now that enables them to serve as an ideal model for the company/industry?

Start with the people at the top and reverse engineer their stories. Discover the qualities, values and practices they’ve engaged in throughout their careers to get them to that point. Those same qualities, values, and practices will be what is expected of you once you make the transition.

What Kind of Culture and Operations Prevail at that Company or in that Industry?

Once you understand what your desired company/industry values are based on and what they value in people, the next step is to learn what they value based on how they operate.

Every company or industry has a distinct way of operating that can reveal a multitude of things about who they are.

For example, young tech startups in Silicon Valley tend to operate under a “move fast and break things” mentality. What this really means is that they believe in experimentation over perfection. They create, they launch. They measure, they iterate.

On the flip side, many large multinational corporations that have been in business for decades focus more on process; they’re past the learning and experimenting phase and more likely to focus on sustaining and growing what’s already proven to find them success. They have systems in place that are going to be very important to them. Research, becoming part of their machine and delivering excellence - even perfection - will be the name of the game for anyone in those type of companies.

What Are the Trends Happening in that Company or Industry?

Finally, stay on top of the movement happening in your desired company or industry.

Are there new trends to follow that can help you stay ahead of the curve? Are things stable and growing, or is something shaking them up a bit? You’ll want to engage in weekly research and daily news updates to understand not just what has gotten them to this point, but what is happening in their world now and what it could mean for the future. It isn’t enough to be well-versed on history – if you really want to stand out, you have to be someone who fully understands what’s happening and have an idea of what to expect based on the trends.

This may sound like a lot of work – and it is. I chose the word ‘immersion’ specifically to highlight the fact that you should dive deep into you research in a way that makes you already feel like you’re working in that company or industry. This will enable you to sound like an expert even before you make the transition, thus improving your chances of success. Additionally, you will feel more confident about the move and the work. And confidence is an invaluable advantage when entering new territory. Think of it like taking a new subject at school. At first, you know hardly anything. Then you did your research, studied hard and prepared to take the test. In this case, the test is starting your new career.