On Monday, I shared a question from a job seeker who is trying to change fields, but is running into predictable problems, including the fact that she appears overqualified for her targeted jobs. I shared ideas about how to expand her network using social media to become a subject matter expert and possibly connect with someone who can help. Today, a few more ideas that don’t involve social media. Here is the question again:
My career background is as an analyst…My previous employers have been smaller firms, under 50 employees.Â Social media isn’t used very much by advisory firms that I’ve targeted as a good fit.Â Much of that is due to FINRA compliance constraints that keep them from engaging clients online.Â I’m still tweeting, but relying more on networking in-person and making connections on LinkedIn where employees of these firms and their connections are likely to be.
The biggest challenge I’m having on the job search is that analytical roles in the personal (retail) side of the financial services industry have been slow to pick up. There are new demands for sales producers, operations and administrative staff, but very few new opportunities for analysts.Â The institutional side of finance has also picked up, more so than the retail side.Â It’s difficult to convince employers that skills can be transferable from retail to institutional, or from smaller firms to larger firms.
Some of the recent jobs I’ve interviewed for have been at a lower level of experience than I have, and the firms decided I was overqualified.Â I would like to broaden the scope of the jobs that I’m looking at, because I think that my advanced skills.. could be applicable in many areas of corporate finance and planning. How can I best market my skills to other industries…so that employers will recognize the skills as transferable and qualified?
First thing: STOP applying for jobs that are beneath your qualifications. Look at comparable jobs that need your transferable skills instead. If you want to rely on transferable skills to land a job, the onus is on you to prove that you have what it takes.
- Study the job descriptions. Break them down by skills and accomplishments. Use a highlighter to mark the parts of the job that you know you can do. Look at each skill and then prove your successes on your application materials, including your resume and online profiles. Keywords from job descriptions may be your best and easiest source of information.
- Use LinkedIn to research information about people in your targeted job titles. Read their summary and skill sections. If these are filled out, you should be able to garner a lot of skills and keywords relevant to people who are successful in the jobs you want. Incorporate those keywords into your resume and online profiles.
- Don’t include information in your application materials that the employer does not need to know or may distract him or her. In other words, everything on your resume must be relevant to the targeted job. Describe your background using words and phrases relevant to the desired employer — eliminate anything that will encourage the reader to say, “Oh, she wants to do XYZ,” when XYZ is not what they want. Make a point to describe the experience you have as relevant to what the employer wants. This is key.
- Talk to people. Informational meetings are key to job seekers who are bridging industries or types of jobs. Ask questions about necessary skills. Mention the issues you have been encountering and make a clear pitch for why you know you can do the job. Focus on the organization’s needs – not your own. This isn’t about “I need a job.” It’s “I am skilled and experienced, and my background enhances my ability to do this job well.” You need to know how you solve the problems that the organization needs solved. Convince some people along the way by making a clear, solid case. Your goal is to connect with people willing to go to bat for you.
- While it is controversial, consider offering to do some consulting or problem solving for a highly desired organization for a reduced fee or for free. Before you do this, make sure you understand exactly the parameters of what you will be allowed/expected to accomplish and how much leeway you will have, as well as what access to people you need to meet. Only do this if you are pretty sure it will be a win-win. It could be a way to prove your expertise and land an opportunity.
photo by Anirudh Koul