Why Changing Careers Isn’t Starting Over

February 24th, 2015 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »

Changing Careers

An average person ends up changing careers 3 to 7 times during his or her life. Some change jobs by choice, others by paradigm shifts in the market. In recent decades, computerization has made plenty of professions obsolete, and as technology evolves at a particle accelerator’s pace, we may find as much as 47% of current American jobs automated.

So, whether you want to change your job or not, you might be switching careers at one point. For those who are there, these tips will help you to quickly get back on solid ground.

Are You Starting Your Career From Scratch?

One of most terrifying things about a new career is the feeling that you’re back to square one. Good news: that’s not the case.

Unlike most entry level employees, you won’t be plopping down into a job with only limited work experience. Recent grads will be trudging through waist-high challenges that you’ve learned to trek over with snowshoes. It’s all thanks to your transferrable skills.

On the job, you’ve learned to solve problems through a number of cognitive tricks. You’ve interacted with a wide spectrum of personalities, picking out the nuances of great interpersonal skills. When changing careers, these are the skills (in addition to any technical skills you’ve picked up through retraining) that you’ll highlight on a resume.

Making Your Resume Matter When Changing Careers

Conventional resume formats do career changers a disservice. The reverse chronological resume (what most of us recognize as the standard resume) is meant to show logical progression toward the present.

Sure, changing careers is a progression, but on a resume it lacks the same sense of preordainment, seeming random instead of planned. That’s why a career changer’s resume needs to do two things: prove your new skills and showcase your interpersonal strengths.

Start with education. A new degree, new certifications, and new coursework prove you’ve made yourself right for the role. Then, demonstrate any of your newfound skills up toward the top of your resume.

Developers should link to their websites, mobile apps, and software projects. Engineers should link to any of their 3D schematics. Accountants should attach financial proposals. Remember: leverage your blooming portfolio early and often.

Then, emphasize your other strengths. As with any resume, focus more on accomplishments than your duties. However, there’s a twist. All major talking points should revolve around your soft skills (problem-solving, teamwork, work-ethic, etc.) and the ways in which they’ve paid off big for former employers.

You’re no stranger to success. Just prove it.

Networking in New Waters

A little diplomacy goes a long way in the job interview. Often, it’s who you know more than what you know in the job search.

When changing careers, your existing network still matters. You’re not a hopeless bluegill tossed into the salty expanse of the Pacific Ocean. No one’s network is strictly limited to their discipline. Your former contacts have friends, family, and acquaintances outside of their field of study. So do you. Through their help, you can make further inroads to your new field.

LinkedIn is one of the first places to start refurbishing your network. Check all your 2nd degree connections. Research their LinkedIn page and any related profiles. Then, ask your 1st degree connection to make the introduction. On the first go around, never ask for help finding a job. Start small with a conversation, build a rapport, and go from there.

Moreover, join new groups on LinkedIn, and instead of sitting there like a ficus plant taking up space, be proactive and start conversations. Share posts, make comments, and build up a familiar presence in your online community. Then, start reaching out to new connections.

Changing careers may not be an instantaneous transition. However, given some hard work, smart self-marketing in your resume, and a diversified network, there’s no reason why you can’t find a new career. As you change careers, you’ll be more than an aging Betamax player on the shelf; you’ll be a self-sustaining human computer that evolves with the movements and needs of the market.

by James Walsh

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