by Pamela M. McBride, M.A., IMDiversity Career Center
Ok, you’ve followed the rules of the “new” workplace by subscribing to the lifelong learning concept. Now, with your new degree and outstanding performance appraisals that prove your capabilities you waltz your exemplary work ethic into the boss to take him up on the promise of helping you change careers. But, she doesn’t follow through — again! So now what?
Well, before you cut off your nose to spite your face, step back and re-evaluate your approach. If the first thing you do when you apply for internal jobs is pull out the resume that got you your current position, then you are you taking your job search much too casually. Here are three tips to show your boss that you mean business. Then, if he still doesn’t bite, you’ll be more than prepared to get a job somewhere else!
Don’t Update Your Current Resume, Write a New One
Your new career goal requires a new resume. Chances are, you have a chronological one that shows off quite well all the accomplishments you have in your current career field. However, if you are switching gears, then this very same resume is a sure way to show any reader how UNQUALIFIED for the new job you are.
There are two basic formats for packaging and presenting your work experience for a career change. If you prefer to stick with the chronological format, then make sure you include what you do in your current job only if it is related to your new field. Or, switch to a functional resume and describe your experience by focusing on three or four skills that are necessary for your next job. The latter will be much more difficult to write but it is likely to be a much more effective marketing tool.
Not sure which functional skill areas to highlight? Then surf the ‘Net for vacancy announcements and glean from the job descriptions exactly what employers are looking for. And by the way, don’t forget to draw from your experiences in volunteer work, hobbies, part-time jobs, etc. to fully demonstrate your suitability for the job.
Prepare Thoroughly for Interviews
Don’t get trapped into talking about irrelevant work experiences when interviewing for a different job. If you were checking out a potential hair stylist would you care if she or he could change the oil on your car? In fact, the more she talks about car maintenance skills, the less interested you may become in her styling skills. Well, the same goes for interviews with potential employers. ?Stay focused on what will get you hired. Use your new resume and the research you did to develop it as a starting point for interview preparation. Be ready to offer specific examples of your work in the new field, even if it means drawing on group projects while you were working on that degree. And whatever you do, don’t sell yourself as ‘two for the price of one’ or you will end up right back where you started…overworked and underpaid! ?Also, be ready to answer formerly easy questions like “Tell me abut yourself,” “Why are you leaving your job” and the like with savvy answers that not only focus on your new career field but that also display a positive attitude about your past employer. You may as well kiss the new job goodbye if you dare bad-mouth your old boss…potential employers will take it as a sign that you will do the same to them.
Give Notice and Get a Temporary Job
Be prepared that entering a new field may cost you a cut in pay, especially if you leave your current employer. Besides that, if you walk out the door before you have a new job, then finances may get tight until you secure another gig. If your savings account isn’t going to help much in that department, consider ‘temping’ as an answer to your money woes.
By registering with a temp agency you will have a chance to try out different employers and jobs in your field, meet colleagues with whom you can network, AND make money to pay the bills. Did I mention that ‘temping’ may also free up some time for your job search activities? That is, IF you don’t take every assignment offered to you.
Logically, getting a new job with your current employer should be easier than getting one elsewhere, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Whether you decide to move up or move on the bottom line is: you will have to use every professional tactic you can to get the job you want.