Lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that they want to make a career change. Not just industry, but their function within an organization. For many the idea of doing this is often more appealing than the reality. Here is the biggest barrier for most people and if you can get past that, some tips for success.
The Big Question: Are you ready to take a pay cut?
I start here because it is typically the biggest deal breaker to change. 95% of conversations I have with people about changing careers end here because when you are used to the compensation you have accumulated over 10 years in a specific function, going back is hard (or not even an option) for most people. Think about it, if you are making a complete career change, you are competing with entry level candidates (typically) who are willing to get paid less in exchange for experience. Figure out how much you NEED to make if you change jobs, not just what you WANT to make.
Before You Make a Change:
Look for ways to get some relevant experience where you are.
- If you work at a SMALL company, keep raising your hand and taking on more responsibilities. When you are interviewing in the future you can point to the experiences you gained and why you are worth more.
- If you work at a LARGE company, try an internal transfer. You have years of company knowledge that would provide value and a reason for them to pay you a premium in a new function. It might not be as much as you are making now, but it could be less of a step down than changing companies.
During The Job Search:
Target companies that need your industry experience. For example, if you have been an accountant for 10 years and want to get into sales, target companies who sell to accountants.
On Your Resume:
Have and Objective Statement, not a Summary. Resumes with an Objective Statement are more likely to take you further along in the interview process (initial phone screen) when you do not have the background for the role. A summary just confirms what I already know; you do not have the right experience for the role in which you are interested. This typically means the resume is dead on arrival. BUT, if you tell me what you want to do, I can work with that.
In The Interview:
Know what you want. Hiring managers are not interviewing you to help you decide what you should be when you grow up. They are trying to figure out who will best help them hit their target objectives. Even if they see potential in you, lack of focus can be a deal killer. If you are interviewing for a sales role, talk about the other sales roles you are interviewing for, but best to leave those marketing roles you applied to out of the conversation. By staying in your swim lane during the interview, you can keep the focus on your ability to do this role.