What feels like a million years ago (reality, about 30) people used to get an education in a certain field and work in it until retirement. If you’re anything like me, you a) hate the idea of this and b) spend a lot of time trying to convince your dad it’s simply not the case any more.
And the thing is, generations past can be really convincing. Especially when they’ve reached the heights in their career you’re still aspiring to. It’s tempting to follow in their footsteps even if, actually, it’s not what you want. Especially when making a change could mean taking a small step back, before an eventual leap forward.
But, it’s important to remember all the experience you’ve built to date is still valid and will carry you through into a successful career - whatever that may be. It’s what makes you unique and perfect for your new career path. All you need to do is learn how to communicate the value of your existing transferable skills, knowledge and experience while showing you’re able to fill in the gaps if you get the job. Easy, right?
I’m going to tell you why you have an advantage right now. You have an advantage because you’re already thinking about how you can put some effort into your next application. You’re not about to click apply on 50 roles without a second thought. This puts you head and shoulders above many candidates who have the “right” experience but the wrong idea. And that’s how you’re going to get your foot in the door, that, and a little help from us.
Recent, relevant experience. Always. Whether you’re a career changer or not, this is always what an employer is looking for. They want to know - does this person have the skills and experience to step into this role and succeed fast?
As a career changer, it’s your responsibility to show a future employee exactly why your previous experience is directly related to what they’re looking for. Don’t leave them guessing.
If you’re at writing a cover letter stage, you’ve likely already identified which key areas of your experiences match the brief. Go over the job description again and every time you think of a reason you’re able to do the job, write it down. Then tweak until you’ve made a really convincing case for exactly why they should interview you.
When writing a CV or cover letter it can be easy to fall back on explaining what your responsibilities are. But that doesn’t explain the impact you had. You haven’t merely “managed a team”, perhaps you’re a sales team lead who’s increased the revenue billed per team member by 30%. Make sure you include the outcomes of your work. The tangible results. Put in writing a challenge you were presented with, the actions you took and the benefits for the business. Costs saved, problems solved, time saved, people helped, revenue generated and work produced are all outcomes.
Can you show the company you love their mission and you “get it”. For any hiring manager a factor in their decision making is “how long will this person stay” or “will they stick to it” - onboarding staff costs time and money, so it’s an important decision. If your heart’s not in the problem you’re solving, you could become a difficult employee to manage because you’ll get fed up. So, they’re looking for people aligned to the mission, who love the way they’re doing things, and get excited when they talk about the products they’re building and the feedback they get. It’s a good idea to reference where you’ve seen them in the press, an initiative they’ve recently launched or the positive feedback you noticed during your research.
TLDR: Take a step back from your cover letter and think about whether you’ve shown recent, relevant experience, impact and passion. If not, make it happen.
Switch is Jolt's immersive bootcamp for career changers looking to transition their existing skills into a career in tech. Find out more here.
Charles Darwin took long walks around London. Kurt Vonnegut made listening to jazz a daily priority. Fiona Apple disappeared for 6 years after the release of her third album.
I ask because I can often be found agonising over the "more". If only I posted on Instagram more, I'll think in the bath. I'd have more followers if I pitched to more publications. I need to post 2 more times a week, minimum. I could go on...
Between you and me, I've got frustrated with myself for browsing Facebook or watching too much TV more times than I can remember.
And I'm not alone. So many of us are terrified of taking a break, creatively speaking. We won't let a moment pass without listening to a podcast, consuming an article or sharing something.
The cognitive load is real, y'all.
But like Vitamin D, sleep and good food, it's not only ok to take a break, it's essential.
Living a successful life is also about knowing when not to work. For your best output, you need to focus on your input, too.
The world won't end if you disappear from the internet for a week or so. Your creativity won't suddenly stop. Your time is now, but your time was also then and it will be again.
Many of us confuse being "busy" with being constructive. But you can only do your best work by taking breaks.
And science backs it up, too. The brain requires substantial downtime to do its most innovative thinking. The ideas you have while driving or in the shower aren't coincidental. They're a result of you taking a step back, whether you're aware of it or not.
Let yourself take a wonderful and indulgent break. Several breaks. Hell, get downright bored.
Wallow in it. Don't be afraid of it. Push it as far as you can.
When you leave your laptop behind, something always happens. A new idea or a fresh perspective appears.
Take proper breaks, often. Completely clear your mind. Your next best idea depends on it.