Seventeen years ago, you innocently took a job as an IS manager in a healthcare organization. Now, after following a vigorous career trajectory from company to company in positions of increasing responsibility, you look in the mirror and staring back at you, to your horror, is a \u201chealthcare CIO.\u201d You\u2019ve been typecast, but you\u2019re tired of the challenges endemic to your industry, and you want a new role. What do you do? How do you convince a financial services CEO, who is keen on bringing in a business-focused IT leader, that you are the best fit for the job? How do you move into a new industry without taking a backward step?You don\u2019t, says Don Parker, who is EVP of Operations and Technology at BOK Financial Corporation and has spent his career in financial services. \u201cTen years ago, when the application of technology was more generic, IT knowledge could translate across industries,\u201d he says. \u201cBut today, technology is how you compete and your value as a CIO is based on your ability to drive the business. Your best offers will come from the industry in which you have expertise.\u201d But despite the fact that securing a CIO spot in a brand new industry is a good deal more challenging than remaining in your vertical, many CIOs have bitten the bullet and made the move. Here is some advice\u2014on getting the job and keeping it\u2014from a few of them. 1. Think carefully about the industry. Before you decide to dive headlong into a new industry, you need to do a \u201cgut check,\u201d advises Bart Thielbar, VP of IT at Northwestern Energy, who moved from insurance to utilities in 1998. \u201cAre you moving toward something or away from something?\u201d he asks. \u201cIf you\u2019ve had trouble succeeding in one industry, you may have trouble in the next, and this time you won\u2019t have the same support networks.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0Thielbar also advises that you think long and hard about the future of the industry you are considering. \u201cUnderstand that trends like regulations and consolidation will put pressure on your company and your job,\u201d he says. \u201cMake sure you can stomach those trends.\u201d 2. Go for the late adopters. When Thielbar decided that he was ready to move on, he looked specifically for an industry that currently spent less money on technology than insurance but that was gearing up to spend more. He saw that the utility industry was on the verge of automating its consumer processes, and successfully targeted Northwestern.3. Follow the vendors. Wayne Sadin, CIO of Aegis Mortgage Corporation, agrees with Don Parker that your best bet is to pick a great industry and stick with it. However, if you are set on making a move, he suggests you take a look at the business development strategies of your vendors. \u201cLet\u2019s say you\u2019re an expert in workflow or imaging,\u201d he says. \u201cGo to those vendors and ask them what industries they\u2019re trying to break into. Take advantage of all of that good market research.\u201d4.\u00a0 Make subtle, not drastic, industry changes. Rafael Sanchez, VP and Group CIO of the Carnival Corporation, has worked in his share of industries, but they contain a common element\u2014the consumer. \u201cI\u2019ve worked in consumer products, food service and travel,\u201d he says. \u201cThey definitely have their differences, but they are all focused on the customer, and from a technology standpoint, they have a lot in common.\u201d If you\u2019re the CIO of a hospital and your goal is financial services; do a stint at a health insurance company before making your ultimate move. 5. Go pro bono. In 1999, Jan LaHayne, CIO and Global Leader of Customer Service for Littelfuse, moved from a career in the food industry to a whole new world of electronics. She recommends that once you\u2019ve selected the industry of your dreams, you do some pro bono work in that industry to get some experience on your resume (and some contacts in your Rolodex). \u201cGo to your industry\u2019s association and ask if there is something you can do for them,\u201d she suggests. \u201cIf I wanted to work for Microsoft, I would find out what nonprofits they support and do pro bono work for them. Now you\u2019re rubbing elbows with the right people. I\u2019m doing that with the Brookfield Zoo,\u201d she says. \u201cIf I ever decide to go into nonprofit, I\u2019ll have the experience. \u201c6. Highlight the similarities. Once you\u2019ve found the industry, company and, most importantly, the CEO who will entertain your candidacy despite your lack of direct industry experience, you\u2019ll still need to manage your interview. When Mike Sebastian, who was directing IT for the San Diego Sheriff\u2019s Department, was on an interview at TD Industries, a construction company, he asked a series of questions about the outgoing CIO\u2019s interaction with the actual business of construction. \u201cI learned during the interview that while its business may be construction, the company lives and dies by project management and remote connectivity,\u201d he says. \u201cI was able to show them during the interview how important those skills are to the business and how relevant they were to my own background. In the end, I got the job.\u201d7. Hire a number two from the industry. Aegis\u2019s Wayne Sadin suggests that once you\u2019ve chosen your industry, managed the interview and landed the job, you look hard at the industry experience of your direct reports. \u201cIf I were moving to a new industry, I would make sure that my number two comes out of that industry, or I would bring someone with industry experience in,\u201d he says. \u201cWhen two levels of IT don\u2019t know the industry, the discussions get pretty surreal.\u201dTo be clear, many companies want CIOs with industry experience and will not talk to you unless you have it. But there are plenty of cross-industry opportunities for CIOs who look carefully enough. For those of you who have made the switch, what experience or advice can you offer to your peers? Martha Heller is the managing director of the IT Leadership Practice at the Z Resource Group, an executive recruiting firm based in Boston. She can be reached at 508-366-5800 x222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.