Switch Careers and Take Your Skills With You

What did you want to be when you grew up? Like everyone else, you probably had occupational fantasies when you were young. They might have been outlandish, like wanting to be a princess without actually having been born into royalty. Or you might have dreamed about a certain career because of the fame and excitement it entailed—an astronaut, for example.

But later on, as you grew and matured, and figured out what your strengths and passions were, your career choice changes to a more realistic, achievable goal. The problem is, not everyone gets it right the first time. And sometimes people just change, and the job they chose right out of college is not longer satisfying. If that’s where you find yourself, you’re not alone. But how do you switch careers midstream?

The first item on your list to execute a career change should be to research what it is you’d rather be doing. Is it feasible? How much more education will you need, if any? What will it cost? Are there enough jobs available in that field? Will you have to move, either to attend training, or to get a job in your new career? Even if you’ve been part of the workforce for a while, switching careers requires a step or two backward. It’s almost like starting over, except that you’ll be bringing some general work experience into your new career.

You May Already Have Skills That Can Be Transferred

Even if you decide to make a drastic change between two unrelated fields, say, from being a sales professional to studying to be a nurse, there are still many skills you will already have learned that you can use to be successful in your new job. Working in sales requires a good personality, and good people skills, also called interpersonal skills. You need to be able to relate to your customers, to empathize with them, and you’ll have the most success, and make the most sales if you can get them to like you.

Now, a patient doesn’t necessarily have to like you as a nurse, but being able to empathize with someone who is ill and possibly frightened will help you to help them. Being able to put someone at ease will not only make them feel better, it will make your job a lot easier. And good interpersonal skills will also help you deal with family members who have questions, and need reassurance about their loved one. What’s known as having good people skills in sales is called having good bedside manner in nursing. Two different names, but the same principle.

You should be able to identify correlative skills between just about any career field, even if they seem not to have anything in common at first. It’s important to remember that the person doing the hiring for your newly chosen job may not be able to see those relationships. It will be up to you to clearly express how your previous experience will make you successful in your new career.

One way to ensure your previous experience is properly highlighted, and that your potential value is properly exhibited is to get help with your resume writing. A professional resume writer will know how best to phrase your experience, skills, and knowledge so that it applies to the career you’re switching to. They’ll know how to get a hiring manager’s attention so that you receive proper consideration, and your resume isn’t just placed in the circular file.

Also be prepared for a lot of questions when you interview for a job in your new field. Your prospective manager will not only need information about your skills and background, but may want to know why you’re making a change. The more clearly you can express what it is that led you to change your path, the better chance you’ll have of getting that job, and the more successful you’ll be.

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