Wanting to pursue a new career and convincing yourself that you can do the job due to a tenuous link to it, may seem like a ‘no brainer’ to you, but to the people who are making the choices, no amount of presenting the information in a compelling way can make up for what is missing—actual experience. A fabulous resume is great—and of course, you must have one. However, any resume can only have the ring of truth when it provides a definitive case for hire based on the experience you have for the job you want.
If you are planning on changing careers, here’s what you’re up against:
- The Experienced Guy: He’s already in the same job, has been for some time, and will be a formidable opponent. No amount of ‘spin’, fabulous resumes or people putting in a good word for you are going to compete.
- The Up-and-Coming Guy: He’s been working towards and planning for this job for years. This gig will be the next step in his career via a smart, well-thought-out, linear and strategic career path. His logical and progressive career choices make sense and the learning curve for him to reach for the next job will not be difficult or far-reaching. He is an impressive candidate—particularly for companies looking for someone to build a long-term career.
- The Industry Guy Everyone Knows: This is the guy who, while he may not have a linear career, has so much knowledge of the industry and has made so many good relationships along the way he’s a natural choice for just about everything. Recruiters on LinkedIn will hear this guy’s name constantly; he has the industry chops and everyone knows it. He’s always on the short lists and even if he doesn’t get the role, he’s keeping you out of the line-up.
So how do you know if you can compete?
Having the majority of required skills, just isn’t enough, if the one skill you’re missing is the key one (like for instance, 20 years of experience in…). You may be good one day and you can learn what you need to—but people want that knowledge now. They don’t have 12 months for you to come up to speed in the job, they want someone who hits the ground running.
Having “worked with” or “consulted to” the desired role, isn’t always enough either. Advising a C-Level executive in an area of operational strategy or change, doesn’t make you a natural fit for a C-level role. The role is often broader than the niche of your advisories.
How to find out? Research!
- Let your mouse and keyboard do the walking and go to LinkedIn. Do a search for the people who are in the role you’re looking for now, or one under the role you’re looking for. What skills do they have that you don’t? How can you get those skills? Look at what they’ve done in their roles. Have you achieved those things? Anything like it? Build up a body of knowledge and see how you fit when viewing all those people you’ve found.
- Find a job description for the role you want in the type of company you want to work. In each of those bullet points, come up with a definitive achievement based on your current experience. For instance, if the bullet point states experience in business transformations, come up with an achievement you have steered in business transformations. Keep doing it until the job description ends. Do you have an achievement that stands up in all those areas? Recruiters and employers are going to ask these questions of you. No matter how you see your transitional skills, the truth will be in the responses to your actual experience in relation to the job on offer.
What can you do now? You don’t want to be stuck in the same job forever!
Of course not! What you do is plan your career. Based on your research:
- What do you have to learn?
- What is the next logical career appointment that will be the next step, rather than a giant leap?
- How can you make that step?
- How long will you have to stay there before you move forward?
- Can you get into, and exit a role quickly that will allow you to stamp you mark and get some impressive ‘wins’ to your credit as a basis to build on for the next role?
It needs planning
Changing careers can be done. Absolutely.
Sometimes, the change is not great and can be almost seamless. Other times, the odds are against you.
Don’t lose your enthusiasm and don’t give up. It is not going to happen if you look at it as an immediate or short-term goal—particularly if you disregard competition and skills.
But if you really want it, then plan, find out what you have to know, get some help when you need it, and create the strategy and steps you need to get there.