Switching careers can be difficult, not to mention daunting, but if it’s what you want, there are things you can do to improve your chances of success
In the 1990s, many people took a job for life and considered themselves lucky to be in a permanent and pensionable job.
Fast forward thirty years and the job landscape is a very different place. People’s priorities have shifted, and today’s career goals are as much about job satisfaction, learning new skills and enjoying great opportunities like flexible work and travel, as they are about pay and pension.
But while pivoting careers is more commonplace, making the ultimate decision to do so can still be a difficult one. So, what is the best way to go about it? Kieran McKeown of Matrix Recruitment has some sage advice:
1. Boost your CV
While education isn’t everything, having some sort of certificate that is specific to your new career on your CV can help enormously. If you have the time, it is worthwhile to take part in an online or part-time course in the field in which you are interested.
“Online diplomas are less expensive than conventional college courses and can be done in your own time, allowing you to work or travel as you gain the relevant skills for your dream job,” advises Kieran.
When starting out on a new career path with little to no relevant experience, much of your CV will be dedicated to your education. As you move up the career ladder, your CV should show more of the experience you have gained, with a brief summary of your education.
2. Apply for internships
If you are someone who is keen to pivot into a new career or industry sector, it can difficult to get a foot in the door and yet, that’s what you need to do.
“Experience is something that we see our clients looking for more and more,” Kieran says. “As they search for the right candidate, it can really help applicants stand out from the crowd.
“There are plenty of amazing companies around Ireland that want to nurture talent and have amazing internship programmes that teach invaluable skills to those who take part in them. Never underestimate what this kind of experience can do both for your CV and your approach to work in the future.”
He added that it’s also a great way to meet contacts in your chosen sector and can help you create a network of support.
3. Start networking
Networking with individuals in your desired new career sector is key if you want to get a foot in the door. Go to conferences, connect on LinkedIn or meet people for coffee – the more support you have when pivoting careers, the better. And you never know when that connection will come in handy.
“People like helping others so don’t be afraid to extend an invite for coffee and ask for advice on how best to get into your chosen career,” suggests Kieran. “Those working in the industry will be best placed to guide you and they may even be aware of an opening or internship that you can apply for.”
If you’re serious about your new career path, it’s a good idea to volunteer during your free time to build up experience in the sector you want to enter.
“Approaching potential employers with relevant experience will help make you a more attractive proposition to employers,” says Kieran. “You might have to work harder to juggle your current job and the career you want to pivot into, but I do believe that this approach will pay off in the long run.”
5. Capitalising on your soft skills
If you haven’t worked in a certain industry sector or career before, that’s okay so long as you can highlight skills on your CV that are relevant to your newly chosen career path.
“Have you strong communication skills? Are you a team player? Employers value these things no matter what your work background is,” reminds Kieran. “If job pivoters can demonstrate a strong work ethic, determination and enthusiasm, it’s a great way to secure an interview, even if it’s not from working in a similar role or career.”