Fix My Job Search: I Want to Change Careers and Be Taken Seriously

By Wednesday, August 14, 2013 0 Permalink 8

One of my peoples on Twitter asked a common career question that I’m sure you or someone you know has wondered from time to time:

I want to change careers. How do I stop inquiries because of past job titles and be taken seriously for what I apply for?

Here’s the thing about changing careers:

You’re gonna get questions. You’re also gonna get calls about jobs related to your past that you are no longer interested in pursuing. It will be frustrating and at times you’ll wanna kick rocks. In fact, you may kick rocks and roll boulders. It will not be easy and it will take time.

So the first step is to accept that this is gonna happen. The second step is to work on how you’re gonna explain why you’ve decided to switch careers and why you think you’re capable, citing transferable skills where possible. The third thing to do is look at your résumé and LinkedIn profiles to make sure they’re aligned with the direction you’re looking to go. Both will most likely need some work and it’ll be helpful to see how people in your desired path have structured their LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn makes a great career consultant. As for your résumé, a good professional summary can pull together relevant experience and skills and also make it clear what type of role you’re looking for, which keeps the recruiter or hiring manager reading. You should also find the experience and responsibilities in each job you’ve had that relate to the role you’re targeting (after you’ve done some research). Once you’ve done that on your résumé, make sure you do the same thing on LinkedIn. Us recruiter folk like to crosscheck and make sure that candidates are telling a consistent story.

Like I said, changing careers is no easy task. You usually have to take a step back in title and potentially a cut in pay since you’re starting over. You’ll need to connect and meet with people in your desired field to find out what it takes to make it and how to better tailor your profiles. You will need to research the field or industry to see just how competitive it is and assess the likelihood of generating traction. If it looks doable, you’ll have to find ways to get related experience if you don’t have it already. This could mean an internship, volunteering, taking a class, or passing a certification exam to show that you’re serious. Also be prepared for a multiple step process. I went from sales to headhunter to HR Generalist to in-house recruiter at a startup. Each job I’ve had gave me transferable skills that allowed me to take the next step. The one thing I couldn’t avoid during this journey was questions. How you answer them, both on paper and in person, determines everything.

Good Luck!

Rich

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