Career Change: A Little Straight Talk

If you’re contemplating a career change, you’re not alone. Millions of people are tired of their work and dream of doing something different.

I can empathize as I made a big change myself 10 years ago. I worked in corporate HR and I hated it, so I know how horrible it is to feel that you’re in the wrong job.

But here’s what I want to say: I’ve now been writing resumes for 10 years and during that time, I’ve spoken with hundreds – probably thousands – of people who are desperate to get into a new field, but who are going about it in completely the wrong way.

As a result, I know they’re going to look up in a few years and realize they still hate their jobs and nothing has changed and I don’t want that to happen to you.

First things first, forget your resume!

This post was prompted by an email that I seem to have read a million times, although I know it felt new to the person who sent it. In the email, this person explained that she wanted to get out of her current job (accounting) and into marketing. She studied marketing in college but through a series of unfortunate circumstances, she found herself on a different path. Now she wanted to switch back to marketing and she needed me to rewrite her resume so that she could start applying for jobs.

Here’s the thing: I’m a very good resume writer and everyone on our writing team is equally talented. But even we can’t work that kind of miracle.

The simple fact is that making a career change requires much more than a new resume – in fact, I recommend not rewriting your resume at all until you have done the necessary work to prepare the ground.

Career change is a journey

We hear all the time that we should all follow our dreams, and that if we want something badly enough, we can make it happen. And this is true – but we can’t do it overnight.

If we decide we want to live in a bigger house or a better neighborhood, we need more money. To make more money, we need a better job or to start our own business. Making that change may take 5 or 10 years, but if we make the right moves, eventually we’ll be able to buy that new house.

Making a career change is the same. The first step is deciding what you want to do. If you’ve done that, you’ve made the first step (and if you haven’t, why are you reading this when you should be reading this?

But that decision is just the first baby step

Now you need to take a good hard look at where you are now. Look at yourself through the employer’s eyes. Do you have any experience in the new field? If the answer is “no” (or “yes, but not very much”), step back and think about your application from the employer’s perspective.

They have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of applicants for each position and most of those people have past related experience. Therefore they don’t need to look at resumes from people who don’t have experience – it doesn’t matter how good the resume is, it can’t show what’s not there. That’s why I won’t take your money to rewrite your resume until there’s something new there to say.

So the key isn’t a new resume, it’s a completely new approach

Potential clients who want me to rewrite their resume will say “I know I could do the job if someone would just give me a chance”. Or “a friend who works in the business says I have just the right skill set.”

And while it may be true that you have the perfect skill set and that you could do the job, it makes no difference unless you understand that the employer won’t see it that way when your resume lands on his desk – no matter how clever and beautifully presented it is.

In my next post, I’m going to show some of the ways you can start to transform your work life by making steps towards that new position. (If you don’t want to miss it, you can subscribe to email updates here. But for now I just want you to forget that resume rewrite and stop scouring the job applications. There’ll be time for that once you have your career change strategy in place.

See you next time!

Photo by Y

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