I found this session really useful and I understand very well what my CV needs and how it can be interesting.  - Undergraduate attending Sian's seminar

Thinking of changing your career?

6th July 2012

"With the benefit of hindsight" is currently an overused phrase in the world of politics.  I've been hearing it a lot too recently from several career changers I've been working with. 

 If you are thinking of moving in a different direction, whatever your age or past  experience levels, you have to start from where you are. That may sound like a ridiculously obvious comment.  It is always a big step to consider looking in a new industry, assessing what you have to offer and how you are going to manage the gap between old and new. Sometimes, career changers add to their workload by beating themselves up about past career choices that may not appear to be immediately helpful to their proposed new path.

 First of all, I always point out that we never ever deliberately choose the wrong choice when making any decision. It may, with hindisght, turn out to be the less helpful decision, but you can only tell yourself off if you didn't make every effort to get all the relevant information that you need before you decide. No-one ever  tells themselves; " Well, I think option A will be the best one, so I'm going for Option B".

Secondly, all work experience is always valuable, however far away from your target new job it is. Recruiters will always be more impressed by  a candidate who has any work experience, paid or unpaid, than the candidate who has none. The key to selling yourself to a recruiter in a new industry is to be clear about the relevance of all your past experience: regardless of the length of time you have carried out a role, your key job is to assess how well, or not, it links to your new target role.

As you research your new career options,  review each job you have held so far and ask yourself the following questions;

What key tasks did I carry out in this job? 

What key skills did I learn and apply doing this job? 

What key results did I achieve in this job?

Repeat these questions using the future tense for your new target role. 

Assembling all the answers to these questions may take some time but this is your core career change research. 

When you have 6 lists of past and future tasks, skills and results, then mark all of your past experience out of 5 in terms of how closely it matches your target  tasks, skills and results. The answers will then tell you which bits of your past  experience you need to emphasise as you build your CV. 

Essentially, every career choice you made in the past  could offer you meaningful work experience for your future career. Just make sure that you are stressing the right choices to recruiters.


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