Posted by Brian McCullough
Many people who want to change career — and I meet many of them in my job as a career coach — buy into the myth that it is near on impossible to change sectors in a recession. It is easy to assume that when competition is tough, recruiters are going to default hire the candidate with the most relevant experience. However, through conversations with recruitment consultants, I have found employers want much more for their money and are looking at people with a wider skill set who can work across a number of areas.
This is a key advantage for job seekers who are looking at changing careers. Everyone has transferable skills of great use to employers in different industry sectors that are facing talent shortages and skills gaps. According to recruitment intelligence site ERE the recession is not affecting employment across the board, as has happened in previous downturns, but has instead impacted on specific sectors and types of work. We’ve seen the effects on banking and financial services but manufacturing and those semi-skilled jobs, such as auto workers, are also being affected.
Yet specific talent shortages remain. Kevin Wheeler, the president and founder of Global Learning Resources, has had numerous calls from search firms looking for key sales and marketing people, and for R&D talent. Senior HR executives are also in demand, especially if they have global experience. Sectors still largely unscathed by the recession — health care, gaming, entertainment, pharmaceuticals and biotech — are still facing skills gaps and the need to stay ahead of global competition.
Some industry sectors have become strategic in looking to recruit those from industry sectors which have been adversely affected by the recession. In late 2008 the BBC reported that UK government department, the Training and Development Agency was planning recruitment drives later that year in Canary Wharf to target those in the financial services sector for career changes into teaching.
Assessing your own experience, in order to work how you can fill gaps in the sectors you want to move into, is an essential exercise if you want to stand out from the crowd utilising your core transferable skills.
Alex, a recent client, came to me for career coaching. She had worked in the competitive and highly pressured arena of corporate consulting for blue chip multinationals and was feeling pretty burnt out after 25 years focusing on for-profit companies. All this on top of of a forthcoming redundancy, Alex was now ready to change roles and focus on a career where she would be giving something back.
To help Alex work out her new direction, I asked her a series of questions in order for her to carry out an audit of her own skills. If you also want to change careers; a simple way to start is to list items in key areas:
1 — The things you love to do
2 — The aspects you are good at
3 — Your personal qualities
4 — Your specific work experience
5 — The dream organisations you would want to work for
Then write down how 1+ 2 + 3 + 4 are transferable to the organisations you are targeting (5) with speculative approaches. The idea of the exercise is to understand the organisations you are targeting and what strategic value you can offer them.
If you are still having difficulties in identifying what you think you are good at and what you think your personal qualities are, the following further exercise has proved useful when working with our coaching clients who have been looking to change careers and identify their core skill set and expertise in both their working and personal lives:
Think about the successes you achieved in your previous roles. How were these achieved, what steps did you undertake to reach your goals and how did you implement these?
How did you problem solve and overcome challenges that arose during the process?
What personal qualities played a part in you reaching these achievements?
Were these successes as part of a team, if so, how did you get everyone on board, supporting and motivating them to share the common goal?
How goal orientated are you and what key skills have you brought to the fore in reaching your personal milestones?
How do you create a balance between your personal and work life?
What things are you truly passionate about?
Next, to help Alex develop a your successful career change campaign, I focused on her areas of personal interest, the life/work balance she was now aiming for and fulfilling her need of doing something for the greater good. We then packaged together her transferable skills, which included her ability to meet ever changing needs, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, a well-honed resilience working within time-critical environments, a persuasive and confident nature, extensive knowledge and business contacts within blue chip organisations
We focused on common denominators which would package well to prospective employers, in particular the charity sector which Alex was now sure she wanted to move into. In Alex’s case, these key skills were perfect in marketing herself to charities for corporate fundraising roles. So, she was able to target the charities she most wanted to work for and cold prospect her wish list.
Alex made a decision to change; planned a step-by-step route to that change — incorporating specific goals and a time plan — and then executed all of these to reach a successful outcome; being offered her “dream job” at a leading UK charity.
Elizabeth Bacchus is a leading Career Coach, Writer and Founder of The Successful CV Company, provider of interview winning CV’s, Cover Letters and Career Coaching to clients around the world. http://www.thesuccessfulcv.com