It’s safe to assume that every professional on the planet isn’t happily trotting down their career paths. A large part of our business is to make sure this isn’t the case, but it can take some trial and error to find the right fit. Things don’t always work out as planned, and when you decide it’s time for a change, the decision to forge a new path may present itself as the best course of action.
Is a career change in your future? If you’re thinking about making a switch, unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as some of us tend to think. Be advised, changing careers isn’t the same as changing your major. The latter keeps you safe within the confines of university walls until graduation while the former can leave you bewildered and at the mercy of a shaky job market.
Passion isn’t enough, and the urge to do something different won’t be enough to convince hiring managers. At the end of the day, it comes down to experience. If you’re serious about making a change and you’re ready to take the necessary steps, switching it up isn’t impossible – it’s just not simple. The information below is from our team of recruiters who’ve advised numerous candidates in situations similar to yours.
Look for a smaller, entrepreneurial company where the possibility of getting hired will be more likely. Larger, corporate companies tend to be more structured, making the transition more challenging.
I would recommend setting realistic expectations for yourself. The fact of the matter is, when you attempt to transition, you require training and will have to take a longer ramp up than someone making a lateral move. This means that you are likely looking at a lower level opportunity, and in most cases, lower compensation. Do play up the skills you have that will cross over to your desired area (without exaggerating). This kind of move is best made my leveraging your professional network, so that you have individuals in your corner that can vouch for you.
Changing careers is not easy. If you’ve worked hard to get where you are, you need to understand that you might need to take a step back in order to take that step forward with something new.
Do your research, make sure it is the right move for you and your career. Be prepared to speak to your successes and what you can bring to the table. You should be able to give specific examples. Don’t become a jumping bean so think long term!
How are you perceived on your résumé? Don’t assume a hiring manager can connect the dots or that he or she will read an entire cover letter detailing your unique situation. Your résumé has to speak for you and it has a very small window in which to get your point across – ensure you are telling your story clearly and quickly. In general, emphasize the skills and strengths on your résumé that make you the ideal candidate. Each situation requires a different approach:
Seeking a new position in the same industry? Highlight your experiences and skills that will translate to the new position and prove that you are qualified to move into a different field.
Seeking to keep your current position, but in a new industry? Include your most impressive achievements in your other positions and include additional skills and experiences that will translate to the new industry.
Seeking a new position in a new industry? Review your previous experiences and cross-reference them with the job description. Focus on the skills that match the job description and elaborate on them to rationalize your reasons for applying.
Bonus: Don’t quit your job before having your next job lined up. If you’re not in the position to sacrifice a few paychecks – don’t. The stress isn’t worth it and there are better alternatives. Consider preparing for your new career while you’re still employed in your current role. Take a night class or an online course towards a certificate or degree in your new desired field. If your schedule is flexible, take on an internship at least two days per week. The extra efforts will pay off when you can add to the Experience section on your résumé.
In the end, you have to be content with your choice and willing to accept the risks involved. Don’t be discouraged.