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Turn Your Passion into Your Paycheck: How to Get a Job in the Outdoor Industry

Turn Your Passion into Your Paycheck: How to Get a Job in the Outdoor Industry

Switching careers or starting fresh in the outdoor industry can be a thrilling journey, filled with opportunities to merge passion with profession.

Whether you’re diving in from a different field, or looking to grow within the vast expanse of outdoor industry jobs, this guide is crafted to navigate you through the essentials, ensuring a smooth transition into your dream role.

Get to Know The Lay of the Land of the Outdoor Industry

First things first, get to know the industry. It’s broad, encompassing everything from outdoor gear companies to camping/fishing/hunting brands, to lifestyle apparel and adventure travel.

Identify where your interests lie. Are you drawn to design and innovation in outdoor gear? Or perhaps, the educational aspect of teaching and guiding others in the outdoors resonates more with you. Recognizing your area of interest is step one.

Identify Your Transferable Skills

Transitioning careers? You’re in luck. Many skills are transferable. Leadership, communication, project management, and teamwork are just as valuable in the outdoor industry as they are elsewhere.

Reflect on your experiences and how they can apply to your desired role in the outdoors. Outdoor companies value diverse skill sets, especially those that bring a new perspective to traditional roles.

Gain Industry-Specific Knowledge & Skills

While some skills transfer seamlessly, specific knowledge or certifications might be necessary.

For instance, a career in outdoor education might require wilderness first aid certification, whereas product design positions could benefit from knowledge in sustainable materials.

Research the prerequisites for your target role and find ways to acquire these skills, whether through courses, certifications, or self-study.

Work with an Outdoor Industry Recruiter

Outdoor industry recruiters have a deep understanding of the sector’s landscape, including emerging trends, skill demands, and the specific needs of companies within the industry.

They’re in the business of matching your skills and passions with the right opportunities. Think of them as your career matchmakers.

Don’t wait for a vacancy to be announced. Proactively reaching out to recruiters specializing in the outdoor industry can set you on the radar early.

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Introduce yourself with a concise message outlining your background, your passion for the outdoors, and your career aspirations. Attach your resume and express your openness to new opportunities.

Be ready to articulate clearly what you’re looking for in your next role and what you bring to the table.

Discuss your previous experiences, transferable skills, and how they align with the outdoor industry’s values and needs. Be honest about your expectations, including desired roles, company culture, and location preferences.

Network

It may seem obvious, but networking is invaluable when you are trying to get a job in the outdoor industry.

  • Attend industry events, trade shows, and workshops.
  • Join online forums and groups related to your field of interest.
  • Engage in conversations.

The outdoor community is remarkably welcoming and often, opportunities come through connections made in such settings.

Tailor Your Resume & Cover Letter

Your resume and cover letter should reflect your passion for the outdoors along with your professional qualifications.

Customize each application to highlight how your background, skills, and interests align with the company’s values and the role’s requirements.

Share personal experiences that demonstrate your commitment to the outdoor lifestyle, whether it’s volunteer work, personal adventures, or related projects.

Prepare for Interviews

When interview time rolls around, be ready to discuss not only your professional background but also how you align with the outdoor industry’s culture and values.

Companies look for individuals who share their passion for the outdoors and commitment to sustainability and conservation efforts.

Prepare examples from your experiences that showcase your suitability and enthusiasm for the role.

If you work with an outdoor industry recruiter or recruiting firm, they can provide you with insider knowledge on what particular companies prioritize, enabling you to customize your responses and examples for maximum effect.

Practice for the job interview and work with your recruiter to refine your pitch—emphasizing your unique blend of skills, experiences, and passion for the outdoors. They can provide feedback on your delivery, ensuring you convey confidence and authenticity.

Take Advantage of Volunteering & Seasonal Opportunities

Sometimes, the best way to break into the outdoor industry is to start with volunteering or seasonal work.

Many outdoor professionals began their careers this way, gaining invaluable experience, making connections, and proving their dedication.

Look for opportunities to volunteer in national parks, outdoor camps, conservation projects, or local outdoor events.

These experiences can be a stepping stone to full-time roles, and they help you build a stronger resume.

Stay Informed & Continuously Learn

The outdoor industry is ever-evolving, with sustainability and innovation at its forefront. Stay informed about industry trends, challenges, and advancements.

Subscribing to relevant publications, following leading companies and influencers on social media, and participating in industry forums can keep you updated and provide insight into where the industry is headed.

Takeaways

While enthusiasm for the outdoors is a critical starting point, success in landing your dream outdoor industry job also hinges on how well you can connect your background to the industry’s specific requirements.

To Recap, Here Are Some of the Most Important Areas to Focus On:

  • Skill Adaptation – Analyze your current skill set critically. How do your skills translate to the needs of the outdoor industry? Identify gaps and seek out resources—be it courses, certifications, or volunteer opportunities—to fill them.
  • Network Intelligently – Networking isn’t just about collecting contacts; it’s about building meaningful relationships. Engage with industry professionals through social media, attend relevant events, and don’t hesitate to reach out to people whose career paths inspire you. But remember, it’s not just about taking; it’s about what you can offer to these new connections as well.
  • Utilize Industry Recruiters – Recruiters are not just gatekeepers to job openings; they are potential career allies who can offer insights into the industry that you might not find elsewhere. Choose recruiters who specialize in the outdoor sector and make an effort to communicate your career aspirations clearly and effectively.
  • Be Ready for Change – The outdoor industry is dynamic, with new trends and technologies constantly emerging. Stay informed and be ready to adapt. This agility can make you more valuable to potential employers and open up new opportunities.

Final Thought

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Transitioning careers is inherently challenging and can be filled with uncertainties.

However, each step you take—from networking to learning new skills—is a building block toward your goal. It’s essential to remain patient and persistent.

Turning your passion for the outdoors into a career is more than a leap of faith; it’s a calculated step towards aligning your professional life with what truly matters to you. This journey will test your determination, require you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, and demand a proactive approach to career development.

Yet, the rewards—working in a field you love, contributing to the preservation and enjoyment of natural spaces, and aligning your work with your values—are unparalleled.

So, yes, push the boundaries.

But also, be methodical in your approach, strategic in your actions, and open to the myriad paths your career in the outdoor industry might take.