Sometimes you drift away from your desired career path. Promotions you thought were vertical were actually lateral moves. Maybe you started the company wearing too many hats and ended up in the wrong field. For whatever reason, you might end up in a place where you need to make a career move in order to achieve your goals. Sometimes that means getting back on track in your current company. Sometimes it means changing companies. But what happens if you need to change industries, or an entire trade?
In short: how do you change your career path mid-stream?
How to Position Yourself to Change Your Career Path
First: Craft your Story from the Beginning
All great careers start at the same place – the resume. The first step to making any career change is to write an effective resume. A career change resume should help you to get your foot in the door of a new industry and establish your presence as a qualified professional. Here are three resume crafting tips to get you started:
- Career Profile – This is often referred to as the “Objective” or “Intro Statement.” Many people make the mistake here of using this section to announce what they are looking for. To the contrary, this section should instead proclaim your strengths as a professional and what you offer the employer. The prospective employer already knows that you’re looking for a position within their company, which is why the term “Objective” no longer applies. Use this section to tell the employer about your Career Profile: your technical skills, abilities as an effective communicator, leadership experience, recent training and/or related skills to the field you are transitioning into.
- Professional Experience – This is the hard part. All of your actual professional experience is in a completely different field, so how do you make that experience look applicable? For starters, consider leaving out your specific job title. Just mention the company, the department you worked in and the time you spent there. Then, keep the work description concise but accurate and leave out any information that isn’t relevant to your new career path. As Human Workplace’s Liz Ryansuggests, “You have to see the relevance between what you’ve done already and what you plan to do next.” Almost every job has certain skills that are transferable to any industry. Highlight those transferable skills and avoid mentioning the other aspects of the position that you’re not looking to return to.
- Education –Unless you recently earned a relevant degree or you graduated from an Ivy League school, this section should still remain beneath your professional experience section. If you have enhanced your education with new certificates or degrees relating to the career change you’re aspiring to make, list those achievements above your previous educational accomplishments. In addition to listing the university degree or training you’ve completed, consider listing the applicable courses by name to show that you have academic knowledge and relevant training in the new industry you are targeting.
Next: Tell the World!
The next step to carving a new career path for yourself is to sync your new resume with your global network: the Internet. Aside from creating a virtual resume, you will want to make sure that on every site a potential hiring manager visits, they’re seeing the same thing: your career change profile.
Send the Right Message on Social Media
Make sure you’ve applied your new career resume to your online personas. This includes publicly – accessible profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram (that is, IF you have not restricted your view settings).Additionally, LinkedIn is a powerful job search and networking tool that is growing more significant year after year. It’s important that across all mediums, you have a consistent message. The number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased 500% over the last decade. A lot of this has to do with the number of social media networks invented in the last decade, but it’s still an incredibly significant figure. So don’t underestimate the power of a complete LinkedIn profile with an eye-catching photo and headline.
Be Where the Recruiters Are
Chances are, you haven’t logged into your Monster.com account for several years, and the profile you have is dated, at best. So make sure you’ve thoroughly dusted off your old qualifications and added your shiny new resume with the improved version of you to all of the major job boards. Some hiring managers prefer one over the other, so be where their recruiters are: Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, for example. Many specializations like IT and Engineering have their own industry-related job boards like Dice.com, so don’t feel shy to pepper these sites with your career change resume as well. You’ll want to share your career change resume with as many networks online (and a little offline too).
You can change your career for any reason: discovery of a new passion, underutilized skills, relocation needs or simple career burn-out. If you do come to a point in time when you find yourself itching for a career change, the good news is that you don’t have to start completely from scratch.