The key to a successful career transition is preparation. Those who make a smooth change between industries are the ones who have researched and prepared extensively before they have proven themselves to be a worthy candidate, despite a sometimes radically different career or education background, in which their skills were developed. Follow these 5 golden rules to ensure a smooth career transition and return to them long after you’ve secured the job.
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Know your value - Negotiate
It’s essential to know your worth from your intrinsic attributes as well as the skills gained from your previous career. Negotiating the value of these however, depends on how they are relevant to your new industry. “We all have a unique combination of assets such as our personality, skill sets, abilities, and experiences” say Dr Michael Woodward, “to make a successful career change, you will need to organise your assets in a way that you and prospective employers can easily understand”. Articulation is important here, as highlighting the relevance and strengths of your skills not only demonstrates how your competency in moving to a new industry, but also proves that you are the best candidate for the role.
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Training - Know your industry
With career transition comes retraining. Conduct extensive research into the industry, its top companies and corporations, reputable CEOs and their company’s partners. By carving out a specific idea of where you’d like to enter the industry, decisions that are made to get there can be more strategic and realistic. Leadership coach Lolly Daskal highlights the importance of research to make an executive decision on your move as “the more real you are with yourself, the easier the transition will be.” Focusing on selective roles and making connections between the job requirements and your skills will further refine your research and justify your move to potential employers.
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Curate your skill set – Transferable skills
Transferable skills are always essential. When changing career paths however, they are necessary to creating strong connections between your current skill-set and the new job description. “You need to be able to explain how your specific skills and knowledge can apply (and add to the company and industry” said Brazen’s Ruth Harper. “Even if you can’t bring subject matter expertise to the position, potential employers will love that you have useful skills combined with a unique outsider’s perspective.” Use them to show what you have gained and learned from your previous role and combine your personal traits with the job description as extra fodder, creating a well-rounded and researched application that shows connections to every aspect of the job.
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Network - Look for people, not jobs
According to Shauna C. Bryce “many of the lawyers I’ve interviewed have never looked for a job after their first few years of practice. Every single opportunity came to them through their network.” In making yourself a common name across a number of companies, you increase your chance of a referral as well as being able to bring real examples to an interview of people you know and advice they have given you. This is the same for recruiters in the industry, as Bryce notes, “in some cases… the only candidate considered for the positions [were] offered jobs that ended up never being posted” because the recruiters already knew someone who they thought was ideal. Joining event networking clubs, attending lectures and events sponsored or hosted in partnership with big companies of your target industry increases the chance of building a relationship with people you may never otherwise never get to speak with.
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Be Proactive – Act, don't analyse
Changing careers requires active participation every day. From research to applications, interview prep, remodelling your CV and cover letters and networking, it's always better to act, rather than analyse. Speaking about his own career transition, Careershifters founder Richard Alderson reflected on how his overanalysing of his career change was a disguised form of procrastination, His coach said to him “Richard, it’s like you’re standing in a forest and you have a number of tracks in front of you. But you’re paralysed because you don’t want to make a mistake.” Having realised how he was actually afraid to take the first step and hiding behind his work, he focused on actually doing something and dealing with the errors after. “When I started to act rather than analyse, things started to change”.
Many thanks to our partner publication Your Coffee Break magazine for collaborating on this article. Your Coffee Break is a London-based lifestyle magazine for the professional woman. With representatives in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, Your Coffee Break has established itself as the go-to magazine for global businesswomen, looking for inspirational content to read on their coffee break. @UrCoffeeBreak