What to Consider When Making a Career Switch

Analyst, White Plains, NY
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Private Equity Associate, New York, NY

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We’re no longer of a generation that chooses one career and sticks with it.  While our grandparents may have stayed with a single company their entire working lives, nowadays people bounce around companies, continents, and career paths all the time.  Unfortunately, this means that our forefathers may not be able to give us the best advice when we decide we want to make the transition.  So here are some important things to consider while making that uncertain, foreboding, and always exciting career switch!

Assess Where You’re At

A crucial part of changing direction is determining exactly where you currently stand.  It’s important to understand why you want to make a change, and what specifically you have at the moment that you want to modify.  Is your work unfulfilling, not paying you well enough, or leading to a dead end?  And are there ways you can remedy these current problems without jumping ship?  Making a career switch is a huge task, so instead of falling into the “grass is always greener” mentality right away, it may be wise to evaluate whether or not you can find ways to be happier where you currently are.

Do Your Research

Before you make any hasty decisions, it’s important to understand what you’ll be getting yourself into.  You don’t want to transition out of a career just to find the same problems in the new industry you’re entering.  For the new field that you’re considering, make sure you have a solid understanding of salary range, career path, corporate culture, and so on.  You don’t want to glorify a new career solely because it presents a change, and then come to find out that you were happier beforehand.

Get Qualified!

Just because you feel passionate about a new position doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to come easily to you.  Even if you’re an expert in your current field, you may find yourself having to start from scratch when you transition to a new one.  Figure out what prerequisites are essential for the new career you’re pursuing, and accept the fact that you may have to spend considerable time becoming qualified for the new position.  This might mean taking classes, learning new skills, or hitting the books and catching up on industry literature.

Make Connections

Another step to start thinking about is how you’re going to work your way into the “in crowd” of your chosen industry.  It’s important to know the right people when you’re making a career switch, as they’ll be able to impart advice, make introductions, and present you with new paths to consider.  To that end, think about finding a mentor you can chat back and forth with as you grow and become more established in your new vocation.

Making a career switch takes courage, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve decided to embark on this transition.  Remember that it won’t always be easy, but that the best things in life take hard work and tenacity.

Best of luck,

The Doostang Team

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Update Your Job Search Strategies

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Research Associate, New York, NY
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Making a change in jobs can be challenging at any time in your career, but may feel even more daunting for those who have been with a particular company for a relatively long time. Putting together an effective job search and resume can be difficult for workers who may not have been out in the job market recently. A few strategic tips can help you position yourself as a viable candidate while reducing potential vulnerability to ageism.

Use dates and years of experience judiciously.

It is not necessary to include dates of graduation, professional training, or membership in professional associations. Simply listing these credentials is acceptable. It is not in your best interest to describe your vast experience in terms of 25 or 30 years of experience.  Consider describing experience with adjectives such as “broad”, “deep”, or “expansive” instead. Simply put, try not to call attention to your age, but rather your skills and expertise.

Limit the length of your work history.

Most hiring managers are only interested in the last 10 to 15 years of your experience. You may feel great pride in accomplishments early in your career, but highlighting your status as “rookie of the year” from 1987 is more likely to hurt than help your job search. Including points such as these could brand you as outdated, which may quickly end your consideration for employment.

Tailor the cover letter.

Individualize the cover letter by using the name of the hiring manager or contact person.  This may require time online to identify the person to whom you address the letter. An effective cover letter serves dual purposes: enticing the reader to learn more about you and listing your qualifications. By leading with a specific name you personalize the cover letter and show that you have done your homework.

Update the cover letter.

Review current business letter formats, for both written and electronic communication. Following the styles from your first typing or computer class will identify you as outdated. Email should also be formal and include traditional greetings and a signature with all your contact information. For example:

Name
Email Address
Phone
Cell Phone
LinkedIn Profile
(can be an asset if you have set one up)

Also be certain to include an appropriate Subject Line, such as:

Sales Management Position
Human Resource Manager Application
Financial Analyst Position – Your Name

If you are uncertain about the appearance of your email, send a test version to a friend, family member, or separate account of your own. If you choose to send a test email to another email account of yours, be certain not to send to an existing work-related account. Most company email is considered open to viewing by upper management. Using company resources for a job search is not good form.

Emphasize diverse experience.

A practical outcome of experience is the accumulation of many transferable skills. Related skills and experiences that distinguish you from other candidates can be included in the cover letter and in the summary section of your resume. Connect the dots for the reader by showing exactly which skills will benefit the potential employer, rather than just stating you have “transferable skills”. You can also highlight your ability to be flexible and adaptable – a team player – as you describe these additional skill areas.

Avoid early salary discussions.

Experienced workers have a reputation for being more “expensive”, so it is important to be cautious in any requests for salary expectations. If required, you may respond by stating your flexibility or describing salary expectations as within normal market range.

Mobilize your network.

With broad experience, you have probably built a solid network of contacts. Now is the time to reach out to those contacts to explore knowledge about openings and let people know you are looking. Think about professional organizations, alumnae groups, or local civic groups.

A job search takes time and career transitions rarely happen as quickly as you would like. Hanging in there while opportunities develop may be the hardest part of the search. Using strategies that make you less vulnerable to negative perceptions from hiring managers helps position you to move more quickly through the search process to a new job.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Doostang News October 4: Tips for Making an Industry Transition

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Consultant , Irvine, CA
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With the job market making a fresh recovery, it’s natural that you may be looking to make the switch to a new industry.  But we all know that it’s hard enough transitioning to a new position, so what’s the best way to make the move into an entirely new field?  Check out some of our tips:

Do Your Research

Spend your time researching as much as you can.  Pour over the latest literature of the industry, brushing up on trends, research reports, conference call transcripts, investor information – whatever you can get your hands on.  The more you know, the easier the change will be.  Try to get to know the ins and outs of your field, going beyond what is expected of your desired job; that way, you’ll be better equipped to face challenges that come your way.

Revise Your Resume

Update your resume to reflect the transferable skills from your previous work that will best suit the type of employment you’re looking to gain.  And if a previous position didn’t require any of these talents, then leave it off.  It’s tempting to list all of the substantive work experience from your past to demonstrate that you are a devoted worker, but employers will spend very little time looking at your resume before moving on to the next one.  Highlight what’s relevant, and if you still feel the need to include the less relevant job experience on your resume, make sure to downplay it.

Network

It’s also imperative that you get out there and get to know as many people in the industry as you can.  Use your existing network to get introductions to workers in the industry you are targeting. These new contacts will be the ones to vouch for you and get you jobs.  They’ll also be the ones that you’ll be doing business with if you land a new job, which will give you a huge leg up from day one.

Finding a new job is tricky, and navigating foreign territory is even trickier.  So make sure to prepare as thoroughly as possible so that you when the day finally comes, you’ll be ready to conquer!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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