Career change is usually difficult for the one doing the changing. There are always aspects of advertized jobs the applicant has not exactly accomplished, if only because he or she hasn’t had the chance! Highlighting transferable skills (the ones you can use in any job) as well as targeting your application materials for the positions in question are important pieces of a successful career change. Having a well-targeted resume that makes it clear why you can do the job (even if you’ve never done it before) is so important!
Beyond the resume and typical job search materials, I believe using social media tools can really help build a career changer’s bridge to a new occupation or vocation. In my book, Social Networking for Career Success, I explain how social media may help career changers who naturally have a difficult time proving they have what they need to succeed in the next job: How? It solves several problems:
- It allows you to extend your network to meet people you otherwise would never encounter. Statistics show how important introductions and “warm leads” are to job seekers. Companies value referrals from within their organizations, and meeting new people you would not otherwise know via online interactions provides more potential for referrals. (Moving those social networking interactions to in-person or telephone conversations is a good next step.)
- You have easy access to information and resources about your targeted profession. I like to think of social networks as offering a constant opportunity to learn what people in the field and thinking, saying, writing and sharing. Twitter is particularly useful in this regard. In the book, I describe how it’s possible to follow content from conferences you don’t attend in person via hashtags, and share tips from Mark Stelzner, of Inflexion Advisors, for live tweeting a conference. If you find and follow people like Mark in your field, you may be able to grasp the key problems your new targeted industry is grappling with, without leaving your home and without spending a dime! (I elaborate on all the details in the book for HOW to find and follow the right community online.)
- Social media allows you to demonstrate your newfound expertise, engage in your targeted community, and make a name for yourself in your new industry. Social media can’t MAKE you an expert, but if you have what it takes to excel in your new field, you should be able to demonstrate it online. Show that you know what’s going on, suggest solutions based on your expertise in other industries or fields and be someone who contributes to the conversation in your targeted field.
- Your lack of actual experience in the field may become less important once potential colleagues view you as an active contributor. If you’re good at sharing what you learn and know, the connections you gain and their willingness to promote you as a contributor will outweigh your actual lack of industry, paid work experience as a factor. (It won’t totally erase it, but it goes a long way to helping you get where you want to go.)
- Being familiar with social media tools may be just the unique skill you need to help you land a job. Social media isn’t going away. Having an online profile, a Twitter feed and/or using LinkedIn to connect with prospective colleagues helps show you are staying ahead of the curve regarding technology. In and of itself, that may help you exceed another qualified candidate’s credentials.
In the book, I share career change success stories from several contributors, including:
- Alexis Grant (@alexisgrant), social media coach and owner of Socialexis, who is now Careers editor for U.S. News & World Report.
- Jessica Lewis, who transitioned to a non-profit career after 10 years in a different field.
- Kate-Madonna Hindes (known online as @girlmeetsgeek), who used blogging and Twitter to launch an entirely new career as a social marketer and career columnist. (She notes, “Social media changed my life.)
Don’t let the competitive market discourage you from making a change. Dive into social media — I hope you’ll take a look at my book to teach you how to get on the right path — and you may be surprised by the results! Be sure to learn more about my book, Social Networking for Career Success, as I teach you how to use all the social networks you know about — and some you haven’t even considered — and Amazon has it for a great price!
photo by vistavision