If you’re contemplating a career change, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the transition. If you want to put your best foot forward to make the career crossover successfully, read on for our tips…
Figure Out the Skills You’ll Need
Consider the skills needed to excel within your desired industry, and determine whether you have a strong foundation for successfully transitioning into that field. For instance, for a person interested in account management, a sales position might be one of the first roles that come to mind. Such a position would likely require strong interpersonal skills, communication skills, and organizational skills. While certain aspects of those skills can be acquired with education and studying, there are dimensions to those skills that may be more of a personality fit. In considering how you measure up, take a step back and think about your interests, aptitude, and natural strengths. Ideally you would be a good fit through your natural affinity for the role, however, if not, realistically think about how difficult and time-consuming gaining those skills will be.
Give Your Resume a Relevant Makeover
Upon first glance, hiring managers scanning your resume may see your seemingly irrelevant experience and assume you’re the wrong candidate for the job; that is, unless you grab their attention before they reach that assumption. By tailoring your resume to the job you are applying for, you can highlight the parallels between your past work experience and the role you’re hoping to attain. The key is to highlight those skills by phrasing work experience to reflect abilities that are appealing across the board.
For example, you may be surprised to learn that a waitress looking to enter the corporate workforce actually has a great wealth of work experience with crossover potential. In this case, a good way to phrase the vital communications-oriented and financials aspects of her role on her resume might be to give examples of experiences that demonstrate:
- strong proficiency in financial management and dispute resolution
- the ability to multitask and communicate efficiently regardless of language barriers
- the ability to adapt to evolving responsibilities by wearing multiple hats
- a collaborative team player dedicated to meeting goals and creating positive outcomes
Adhere to Industry Standards
Conduct research online by going to industry forums and gaining an understanding of what your resume and cover letter should look like. Certain industries may expect all candidates to bring a portfolio with them, and others may require a more in-depth resume that could take a few pages. Just make sure you meet the standards and know what’s expected of you.
Be Aware of Keywords
Aside from phrasing relevant skills and drawing parallels between your work experience, another way to re-focus your resume is to add appropriate keywords. Many companies use applicant tracking systems, or ATS for short, which are tools that allow hiring managers to search for resumes using words or skills typically mentioned in the job description. To ensure your resume makes it into someone’s hands, try to match your skills and experience to the specifics asked for in the listing. We don’t recommend overusing keywords, however, there are often responsibilities and skills on resumes that can legitimately be substituted by words that were included in the job description, optimizing your chances of getting to the next round of the hiring process.
Make Good Use of Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is your opportunity to overcome whatever hesitations the hiring manager may have about your qualifications. In the letter, include why you’re interested in the position, why your skills make you qualified for the role, and what makes you sure you can excel in this new environment.
Connect With Industry Insiders
Start talking to industry insiders to get a better feel for the field and the responsibilities you might potentially carry. A good way to start getting in contact with seasoned professionals is to go to networking events, or reach out to professionals digitally through LinkedIn. Industry insiders can provide you with insight into the requirements of various roles in the industry, and you also have the potential to create a helpful connection, which could serve you well in the future.
Amplify Your Social Networks
Employers are now using social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for hiring purposes, so it’s important to make sure that you come across as responsible and professional on every site you’re on. To do this, google yourself to make sure there aren’t unflattering search results that employers might see, and delete any questionable data from your profiles, and set up some basic privacy settings to give employers just enough to get a sense of who you are, without giving them license to hunt through all of your information. Once your profile projects your desired image, show your passion to employers by communicating your interest in the field by posting relevant content, such as recent news or opinion pieces.
Have an Explanation
Once you get to the interview part of the hiring process, prepare to explain how the skills you’ve acquired from past experiences are transferable to the job you’re interviewing for. Familiarize yourself with the motivation behind your career move and what makes you likely to be a great professional, so you can articulately express those sentiments in the interview. Prepare to take the interviewer through the career choices you’ve made, from what your first job was, to the change you are now looking to make.