Posts Tagged ‘career transition’

How To Get Noticed – Job Hunting Secrets For Career Changers

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Anyone who has been job searching using traditional methods – applying online, submitting resumes, responding to advertisements, etc. – knows you rarely even get an acknowledgment. There’s a reason people joke about a resume black hole. Employers are seeking something that simply doesn’t exist: “perfect” candidates, ideally someone with direct experience in the role they’re being hired for, preferably at a competitor.

Unfortunately, that means many talented candidates get overlooked. If you’re seeking to make a career change, switch roles, transfer among industries, or re-enter the workforce, you’re likely to be eliminated early on by automated resume screening systems. That’s a problem for job seekers, but it’s also an issue for corporations, which are missing out on top talent. So how can an aspirant break through the clutter and get noticed, especially if he or she comes from a nontraditional career background? The answer is strategic networking.

Your goal should be to network your way into the hidden or unadvertised job market by connecting one-on-one with hiring managers at the company you’re trying to break into. What if you don’t know them? Search LinkedIn to find mutual contacts and “warm leads” who might introduce you. Failing that, you can try cold calling them with an attractive hook – in 30 seconds or less, let them know what’s distinctive about you and what you can offer. For instance, you can mention how your background enables you to get the job done (e.g., you already know many of their customers; you have implemented and have years of experience using the same ERP system they rely on; you were the point person who coordinated with their main IT vendor, etc.) The idea is to show them you’re up to speed on a capability that is critical to their business success or already have established relationships with individuals on whom they depend on for their success.

Now, make the ask: would they be interested in chatting further? It can’t hurt to try, because you’re not going to succeed by going the traditional route. You need to find a way to personally discuss challenges, explore opportunities, and recommend solutions, so you can show them you’ll get the job done and aren’t a risky hire.

Make sure to anticipate objections they might have (“You’ve never worked in this field before! You’ve been out of the workforce for five years!”) and have good answers ready, providing a “trade-off” – in other words, the skills you do have that compensate for what you lack. (“I haven’t worked in this field before, but it’s an advantage that I can bring a breadth of expertise and best practices from another industry that shares some of the same operational/sales/technical challenges as you do.”) It’s up to you to eliminate the elephant in the room by demonstrating your talent, trustworthiness, and cultural fit.

One senior sales executive spent months fruitlessly job hunting. His industry was shrinking and headhunters said they wouldn’t propose him for a job in a different industry; he was either overqualified or under-experienced. Instead, he revised his market positioning, reframed his value proposition and targeted a different group of employers, which shared similar customers to his former employer.

He expanded beyond first degree connections, asking his contacts for referrals. He tapped into consultants, attorneys, accountants, vendors and supplier contacts for introductions within their networks. He rewrote his credentials to distinguish himself from those with deeper industry experience, branded himself as a turnaround specialist – and landed a desirable new job.

Why aren’t more people strategically networking their way into the hidden jobs that are out there? In many cases, the reluctant networker is often a victim of their past success. This may be the first time during their careers that they’ve been involuntarily in transition; they ascended through promotions or were recruited. As a result, they have inadequate job searching skills and haven’t put much effort into creating and maintaining a professional network beyond those they had to interact with on a regular basis.

Responding to advertised openings or uploading your resume to databases may fill your time, but it won’t get you a job. Generally, these are ineffective and passive approaches – just like hoping and wishing that recruiters will magically find a position for you. You may be doing lots of online job hunting activities and making inquiries about openings, but if you’re not developing meaningful, genuine, memorable relationships that will put you on the radar of hiring managers or “recommenders,” you’re probably wasting your time. You can establish these relationships through things like an introduction by a mutual contact, an in-person conversation at a conference, or reaching out by phone or email. Keep in mind that it’s best to transform a virtual relationship into a live connection, which is more likely to be lasting.

Networking purposefully will improve immediate job search results while simultaneously creating the lifetime benefits of “career insurance.” This relationship building is a more labor-intensive process than just clicking to submit your resume – but when done right, it will help ensure that you have timely access to the kind of desirable, insider-only job opportunities that others can only dream of.

Safe Transition: The Path to Your New Career

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

In the midst of an unstable, ever changing economy and job market, many professionals are looking to transition to new industries, fields, and disciplines to take advantage of where the growth is.

Of course, a career change can have a major impact on your overall well-being and happiness so it’s not just about the money or the opportunities. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work; it’s crucial to find something that challenges and inspires you on a daily basis. If you’re doing something right now that you wouldn’t necessarily classify as your “dream job”, don’t worry. With a little bit of hard work and planning, you can position yourself to transition into a new career that makes you excited to get up and go to work.

Career-changers need to take a slightly different approach to their job search, as there are a unique set of challenges and obstacles that must be overcome. You need to understand how you can most successfully position yourself to reflect your new career goals. It’s important to determine whether or not your “old” skills apply to your new career target and if you’ll be able to convince people that you are the person for the job even when you’re competing against candidates that may have more relevant experience.

And, of course, you need to plan and determine the proper course of action well in advance to ensure the transition runs smoothly. Here are a few tips on how you can make a successful career transition:

1. Decide what you want.

“Know thyself” may sound like a cliché, but it’s crucial if you want to make sure you find a role where you’ll be happy. Avoid moving from one job or career to another before you narrow down how you want to spend your working hours. For example, ask yourself if autonomy is crucial, or if using your creativity is most important.

When you make a change, take the opportunity to focus on yourself and your needs. Don’t skip this step; take the time to identify and evaluate what you want to do next.

2. Find Your Measure of Success

Money. Fame. Power. These are the traditional measures of success in the world of work. While there’s nothing wrong with any of those metrics, they don’t capture the whole picture. Figure out your personal definition of success and then go after a career—and a lifestyle—that lets you get what you want.

3. Start with a Fresh Mind

If you are bitter about your current job or you’ve had some failures in the past when trying to transition to a new career, it’s time to start over fresh.

It’s easy to beat yourself up and use your failures as an excuse for not picking yourself up and moving on. But as long as you live in the past, you’re denying yourself the future that could be yours. If you can stop lingering over mistakes and could-have-beens, you’ll find a new reservoir of energy that can help make your career transition a faster—and happier—project.

4. Budget for Good and Bad Days

Debt is a dream killer. So before you begin a major transition, figure out if you can afford it. Start by calculating how much money you’ll need to survive time off for retraining and job hunting. If you can’t afford a career change right now, determine if you can reroute or expand your current income to save up 6-12 months of living expenses. Remember, a few hours spent doing the math right now will save you loads of time and stress later on.

5. Do Your Homework

Focus on identifying an industry that is strong or emerging in your targeted area and has similarities to your current industry experience.

If you’re unsure which industries are easiest to transition to, look for former colleagues who held a similar role to you and have moved on to other companies – what industries are they working in? What companies have accepted their previous experience? This is a good place to start.

Once you’ve identified what industry you want to target, begin immersing yourself in their terminology. Subscribe to industry-specific online newsletters and blogs, join professional groups online and attend networking events or trade shows where you’ll learn more about the industry and meet new people. Identify connections in your current network that work in your targeted industry, and take them out for a cup of coffee to pick their brain. This is a great way to gain valuable insight into the market and uncover unpublished opportunities.

Instead of assuming anything, make sure to use actual research and data to make your decisions and choices about your future. Use all of the resources available to learn about companies and positions, including online and social media tools. Use sites such as Glassdoor.com to find reviews of organizations written by people who work there, and comb through company websites and social media streams to get a sense of company culture.

6. Get Your Hands Dirty

Hands-on experience is a quick teacher. Although you might have a dream career you’ve always thought of pursuing, you will never actually know of it’s the right path for you until you are in the thick of it. Even if you’re crunched for time, there are still ways to test the waters of a new career before you take the leap: find someone you admire and ask to shadow them for a day, do a short-term volunteer stint, or schedule a half-hour informational interview.

7. Build a network

The single most effective way to uncover new opportunities within your chosen field is to start connecting with people who are already doing what you want to do. Be creative in your approach to contacting with people who may be influential within your targeted industry or who may be able to point you in the right direction. Do your homework before you reach out to people so that you can speak intelligently about the job and inspire confidence that you are worth investing their time in.

Network strategically. You must connect with people who can introduce you to decision makers. When you meet new contacts, make sure they understand why you’re a good fit for the type of job you want. Use social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find and target individuals who can be your allies and develop relationships with them. When you target your networking, you will find people willing to advocate for you, which makes all the difference for job seekers.

Also, learn to ask for help. It’s tough (maybe impossible) to head into new territory and to succeed without help. Set aside your pride in order to reach for something new. Career change is hard at first; but it gets easier.

8. Look Beyond the Traditional Job Search Documents

While your resume and cover letter will certainly play a role in your job search, don’t stop there. Because employers will be looking at your resume to find how your past experience matches their current needs, you need to find other avenues to convince hiring managers that you’re the right fit. Write an article. Start a blog. Build a dynamic LinkedIn profile. Social media and Web 2.0 sites give job seekers an incredible opportunity to cultivate a personal brand that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Those who take advantage of those opportunities will be rewarded while those who don’t will have a much more difficult time.

Making a career change can be both challenging and exciting. The largest obstacle you will face is the resistance of others who doubt your qualifications in your new field. The key is to stop looking for your dream job and start doing it.