Thinking of Changing Careers? Four Steps You Can Take

Even with an improved economy and job market, companies have the luxury of selecting from a large number of applicants for a few select jobs. This competitive market can be challenging for any job hunter, but especially for those looking to make a career change. So whether you’re looking to move from profit to non-profit; stay within your same job function but switch industries; or stay within the same industry but switch job functions you’ll need a well-designed strategy and methodical approach to your job search.

To meet this challenge here are four things you can do to mount a job search that puts you at an advantage versus a disadvantage when changing careers:

  • Know how to position yourself for the new job you want

  • Re-assess your skills, experiences and accomplishments

  • Create a strong resume, LinkedIn profile and other social media presence

  • A target map to track your progress

Positioning Yourself

When changing careers it’s important to position yourself for the job you want. If your resume, LinkedIn profile or other social media position you for your current job that’s how potential recruiters and hiring managers will see you. You need a strong positioning statement (value proposition) that puts the focus on the skills, experiences and accomplishments relevant to the type of job you’re going after, and not let previous jobs handicap you.

Rochelle positioned her experience in raising money by selling print ads for a major New York City newspaper. The key for Rochelle was demonstrating where her prior skills and experiences soliciting money from advertisers were transferable to the non-profit sector. Ultimately, Rochelle landed a position as a major gifts officer at a New York City hospital gifting money for several of the hospital’s endowments.

Re-assess Your Skills, Experiences and Accomplishments

You need to re-assess your skills, experiences and accomplishments to determine those transferable to your desired career. You also need to identify those companies or industries with the most opportunities in your desired career. For Rochelle, trying to get back into print publishing when the industry was going digital would have would have been like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain.

Create a Strong Resume, LinkedIn Profile and Other Social Media

After assessing the skills, experiences and accomplishments transferable to your desired career, you need to state these boldly and clearly on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other social media used as a platform to market and brand yourself as this “new person.”

Valarie works as an executive administrator for a New York City financial services

company. Her passion, however, is to work in the wellness field where she has attended workshops, symposiums, and other classes on herbal and healing medicines. Her biggest challenge is positioning herself for this new career without any actual work experience in the wellness field. As such, she needed that “leap of faith” to put on her resume all the volunteer work, mentoring programs, and related activities that position her as a wellness professional, not an executive administrator.

A Target Map to Track Your Progress

You need to create a target map to keep track of the companies, organizations and contacts you make in your desired career. The map is a great tool for knowing your search is moving in the right direction, you’re identifying the right companies, and you’re meeting the right people who can help you along the way.

Keep in mind when changing careers companies don’t hire on faith and hope. They need specific examples of your work as it relates to your desired job, company or industry. The target map can be a simple way of reminding them, and yourself, of what activity you’ve taken in pursuing your new career.

A Final Note

When changing careers you’re facing new challenges and obstacles. Simply applying online for jobs posted on the major job boards, or working with search firms (aka headhunters) will generally yield little opportunities in your desired career. Your best bet is to attend professional association meetings, networking events, or other venues where you’ll meet people that do what you want to do. Hang out with people who work in your desired companies or industries, pick their brains, and follow them on social media. Most importantly demonstrate passion and sincerity toward your desired new career.

Two great sources for assessing your skills and accomplishments, formatting a target map, and other great tips for changing careers can be found in “Targeting a Great Career” and “Shortcut Your Job Search: Get Meetings that Get You the Job” by Kate Wendleton. Happy job hunting!

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