A career change at any stage in life can be an intimidating prospect. Interviewing in a new market requires more effort and thought than moving on to a new role in the same sector. However, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to start with a blank slate – with some careful preparation you’ll find you have plenty to offer, even if you don’t have direct industry experience.
So many skills are transferrable from one industry to another. Communication skills, tech experience, managerial abilities and experience in project management or negotiation can help smooth a transition from one sector to another. Rather than focusing on the direct experience you don’t have, look at the skills you’ve honed that apply equally well whichever industry you’re working in. Sell these in the context of the role you want during the interview and you’ll instantly seem like a potentially great fit.
You can’t cover over knowledge gaps that wouldn’t be there in someone who has worked in an industry for many years. However, with some focused research into the role, the company culture, the sector environment and the latest industry news you can demonstrate an understanding that will show you’re making a conscious and well-informed move. This will also inspire confidence in you as a fast learner and an adaptable employee.
Admit where you lack a skill or experience, don’t try to cover it up. Be proactive in terms of addressing where your former career may not have given you what you need for the change. Show a new employer that you’ve already identified the areas you need to work on and that you have a plan in place for doing this. It’s hard to have reservations about a skills gap if someone has already demonstrated how they would address it.
Many business networks are interconnected these days, from marketers and journalists, to retailers and logistics businesses. It’s inevitable that you will already have connections that you could put to good use in a career change role, so don’t forget to factor these in as a positive.
People make career changes very successfully all the time. You don’t need to make excuses for deciding to move on. Be prepared to give your reasons for the change clearly and succinctly but there’s no need to apologise for it or excuse yourself. The more confident you are in your decision, the more confidence you will inspire in you as a potential member of the team.
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