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How to Change Careers

February 23, 2017

Changing careers requires a big leap, but the payoff of having a new job that you’re truly passionate about can be worth the risk. Moving to a new position or new company is hard enough, but changing your entire career can feel like an impossible task. We asked our hiring experts not just how to take the plunge, but how to do it successfully.

Find ways to get experience in your new field

“My advice is to worry less about the resume at first and focus on your book / body of work. Go freelance on the side to build up a reputation, contacts and referrals. From there your work and end products will speak for themselves.

"You can sign up as a freelancer on Elance/Upwork or a similar sight. In a similar fashion you can build business through donating your time and work to non-profits. Again the purpose there is to start getting referrals and build a body of work. With that in place, you can then start translating it into full time opportunities with a company.” — Bret at Emerson 1

The most difficult aspect of changing careers, of course, is suddenly not having the credibility of experience and skills. This can be remedied by following Bret’s advice. Freelance work, internships, or even offering to work for just experience is a great way to build up a resume and perfect your talents. An internship can teach you on the job skills and allow you to build a repertoire to add to your resume.

You may not be in a creative field, but there are always opportunities to gain further experience in a new field. Experience will give you a certain level of credibility that might not otherwise be available through an educational course. If you gather enough experience in the field that you are pursuing, employers are less likely to question the relevancy of your previous skills, and more likely to appreciate how your work experience can benefit their company.

Tailor your resume to fit your new career

“Only use an objective statement when your experience is not in the current field for which you are applying. Speak to how good you are at your new job and that it is something you love to do and find an outlet. You can also mention how it challenges you and that you get personal satisfaction from using this talent to impact business and make a difference.  Then throughout your resume look for other skills from your past job that would be considered transferable. ”
— Charlene at Gap Inc.
2

Speak to your passion. Follow Charlene’s advice by making your resume’s objective statement clear. Highlight the fact that you find personal fulfillment from your new path and you are talented in the field. An employee who is passionate about their work is a highly valued commodity for any employer.

It is also wise to tailor your resume to suit the needs of the hiring company. Look over your prior skills and underscore what would best translate to your new career path. For example, if you are moving from sales to marketing you can stress how strong your communication skills are. Sales requires a lot of strategic thinking, which would also transfer well into marketing.

It can be overwhelming, but the key to making your career switch a successful transition is to allow yourself the time to acquire necessary skills and a body of work that will speak to your new aspirations. The future depends on what you do today—work on building your personal brand by educating yourself and building a viable reputation, no matter how small you start.

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