As jobs continue to evolve in a marketplace experiencing exponential change, transitioning careers will become more and more commonplace. For many looking to change careers, it can be a daunting prospect, as making a significant change mid-career is not easy. When faced with rejection, unanswered applications and hiring bias, many give up too soon. Don’t let this be you! Being prepared in advance for the pitfalls and challenges ahead of you will mean less surprises and disappointments along the way. Managing your own expectations and mind-set are key to your success so, if you know you have what it takes, DON’T give up! Persevere and get the job you want!
1. Prepare to be seen differently.
Unlike a job switch from one similar job to another, transitioning to another career means that you won’t be facing traditional competition. Resist the temptation to start applying online like you might normally do, it’s not likely to be the most effective strategy. Instead, you must focus on re-branding, not just in relation to your CV but every part of your professional identity. When employers are faced with career changers, they instantly see risk. Why? Because, they see a steeper learning curve, so everything you do needs to account for this reality.
2. Building upon your skills.
The temptation to invest in a certified qualification or degree is understandably an initial consideration and an important one. However, do not overestimate the value of a qualification when it comes to changing careers, it’s not necessarily a guaranteed ‘golden entry ticket’. Whilst people will pay attention to you and it will expand your network, you still need to prove that you’re worth the risk as a non-traditional candidate. Therefore, choose your qualification or course wisely. It’s likely to mean a considerable time investment on your part not to mention a financial outlay, so assess your return on investment before you take the leap.
3. Mobilise your network.
Many jobs seekers I speak to, particularly those who haven’t had the need to look for employment for some time, still believe that applying online is the most effective way to find new employment. However, to effectively make a career change you have to mobilise your network. Even if you do not have direct experience in the desired field you seek, come out of your comfort zone and start networking. It can be amazing how much you can learn from simply talking to relevant people in the industry. Creating personal advocates who can introduce you to decision makers as a trusted referral will support you to overcome some of the biases a hiring manager has against someone wishing to change careers. So, don’t let ego prevent you from asking for help.
4. Acknowledge your barriers to success and neutralise them!
As I have previously mentioned, hiring managers will view career changers as risks. Even if you have been recommended by a trusted referral, you will still face potential objections. Anticipating these objections in advance is critical to help you neutralise them. Objections such as skills, fit or motivation may arise, so have genuine and logical responses prepared and ready to help reassure the hirer. Demonstrate your dedication to your career change by clearly showing your commitment to contribute to the team and their business, company and mission through your resourcefulness and transferable skills. You will also need to have robust examples from your previous experience to help join the dots for the hirer on how they translate to the new role.
5. Research the new market you are venturing into
A critical step that can be overlooked is researching the industry and market you are venturing into. Assessing the supply and demand for your target job is essential as are, the challenges the desired industry is facing or likely to face in the future before commencing your journey. It will not only provide you with important data on how to build your career change strategy, it will help you intelligently progress through the hiring process. Once you have researched your desired market, create goals that are realistic based on what you learn.
A new career doesn’t have to be just a pipe dream, it can be a reality. With research, lots of networking and a concrete strategy targeted towards your desired career will help you leap over the obstacles and land the job you want!