You want to change jobs, maybe industry, and you may even be thinking about a completely different function too. It isn’t easy to change direction and to convince others to give you that chance. The challenge lies first with you and then with them. Consider these three hurdles and how to manage them in your transition.
1. Projecting confidence and positioning yourself. One of the most challenging aspects of the job-search and interviewing process is managing self-doubt. We’ve all got it, especially if we’re new to the workforce, counting unemployment in months, changing careers, or reentering the workforce after speaking toddler talk for years. How do you present yourself to ensure that your interviewer can see you fitting into the company?
2. Translating Skills. One of the biggest job-search challenges can be explaining how your skill sets from previous experiences translate to the type of employment you’re currently seeking. Whether you’re moving from one industry to another or from volunteer work to a paid position, you might worry that you haven’t yet established enough of a track record to pull off that transition. The trick is to identify the skills that are relevant from any previous experience you’ve had and communicate those in your interview.
3. Overcoming Negative Biases. You may be concerned that certain facts about your background or identity will be strikes against you: your age, your gender, your ethnicity, gaps in your work history, or your lack of previous experience. If you’ve been laid off, you may feel pink slip stigma about it, and you may feel that you must have done something wrong to be the one they got rid of—even though you know the boss cut you because your earning level exceeded that of everyone else. Remember that there are many reasons for layoffs. During the recession, one of my neighbors was laid off not because of his performance, but because the law firm he worked for decided to refocus on core areas that didn’t include his area of expertise. Understand your story so that you can project the right message.
At the end of the day, if you don’t think you can do it, nobody else will think you can, either. You’ll need to convince others with your voice, with your body language, and with your story. So you’ll need to convince yourself first. The story needs to be authentic: If you believe it, others will believe it, too.
The most important thing for you to remember—and moms out there, this one goes especially to you—is that no apologies are necessary. You have made good choices. Whether you accepted the buyout package, didn’t pursue a particular promotion, traveled after school instead of finding a steady job, shifted into the slow lane for a while, or left the workforce entirely, you made the right choice for you. As a person who is ready to work now and knows what that means—whether from previous employment experience or through hard work at school—you are coming from a position of strength.
In conclusion, while there are some obvious challenges that come with transitioning in the business world, it’s a process that is completely worth it. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible – remember that! And if you need other advice on interviews, leadership and career transitions, feel free to contact me for more guidance and a discussion about your situation.