|  November 4, 2015

Advice for switching careers

Apologies for the pause in posts, but I’m back and ready to write! Today I want to talk about the topic of switching careers, something that comes up quite often in my line of work.

These days, it’s rare to stay in the same type of job or industry over the course of your career. Most of us make moves based on the things we’ve learned along the way. Climbing one linear and logical ladder is a concept of the past.

But switching careers is HARD.

It’s tough to prove your experience is transferable, it’s tough to get your resume picked from a pile, and it’s tough to land interviews.

Why? Because when recruiters are tasked with hiring for a specific role, they’re usually looking for someone who has very direct experience doing something similar. Even if you can do the job… if there is someone out there who also can and has the “on-paper” qualifications, they’re the person likely getting the first phone call.

However, people switch careers all of the time. It’s doable! Here is my general rule of thumb…

When making a career shift, there are two things you can switch up: your industry or your functional role. If you want to switch industries, stay in your functional area. If you want to switch functional areas, try staying in your industry.

I told this to a friend of mine a few years back. She had a great job in financial services but felt really passionate about marketing. Ideally, she wanted to do a marketing role in a different industry (one that she was more excited about) but also didn’t want to take a big paycut or lower job title. I recommended making a “lateral move” within the company (or at a similar one) and to consider only changing functional areas (Finance > Marketing). Then, down the road she could stay in the marketing world and shift industries.

The idea of taking 2 small steps (over time) can have a lot of advantages versus taking 1 huge one. First of all, it’s easier and you’ll be much more likely to get offers and interviews. You’ll also get to stay close to your current level and salary versus starting at the beginning. The downside… you may not get to do exactly what you want right away.

Back to the story… my friend who I mentioned before is actually still at her same company in the marketing department (3 years later) and loving it! Sometimes a little change is all that we need.

Hope this little nugget of advice helps any of you out there who are thinking of making a move.

Past career switchers, what do you think? Would love to hear what tactics worked for you!

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