Executive Career Transitions – Charting the Course to a New Career
In light of today’s daunting economic climate, it is quite normal to feel anxious about your career future and possible job opportunities. But what happens if you are simply dissatisfied with your job and have been long dreaming of changing to a new industry or career?
Making a commitment to yourself to pursue your passion and explore new career opportunities is exciting and stimulating, but not without challenges. Charting the course to a new career requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth navigation.
So are you finally ready to step out on faith and try something different? Well, here are a few steps that you need to consider before making your move.
Have you conducted a self-evaluation?
It is very important to know who you are and understand the unique value you bring to employers before strategizing a career change. Doing the work to identify and develop your personal brand will prove to be essential throughout your job search and long-term career management. As you reach out to new contacts, you will need to be very clear about your leadership skills, management capabilities and transferable skills that will benefit future employers. Key questions to consider include:
– Where do your greatest talents lie?
– What are the most valuable things you have to offer a prospective employer?
– What is your professional reputation?
– What do others say about you?
– What do you consider to be your differentiating value over others doing similar work?
Did you research potential employers and new industries?
Always look before you leap – doing plenty of research and gathering as much information as possible. Maximize resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which provide a wealth of details on occupations and even gives actual job descriptions and qualification requirements. Compile a list of specific companies via online tools like wetfeet.com and vault.com for insiders’ perspectives and in-depth details on industry and corporate information.
Where will you get the inside scoop?
One of the best ways to understand what you really want is to explore new fields or industries through informational interviews. Informational interviews are an essential tool for career changers because they allow you to gain great perspective from someone who is working in the field and who can serve as a mentor, job search support, and often a great referral for viable job opportunities. Don’t forget to use online social networks like LinkedIn.com, Ecademy.com, Zoominfo.com and Ziggs.com to connect with former associates and friends; also search for industry experts and top people in your target companies.
Is your executive resume suited for your new career?
When creating a career-changer resume, you want to avoid appearing mismatched for the position. Keep your career progression chronological as much as possible, but emphasize the job responsibilities, achievements and experience that are directly relevant to your new job target.
Extensive research on your target positions provides you with valuable keywords, industry jargon and relevant language you can incorporate into your resume. Here is an excerpt from the resume of a banker who was targeting non-profit management positions; this portion was used in her executive summary.
Articulate leader able to influence and solicit support from key executives, government officials and community leaders. Expertise includes extensive knowledge and proven success in securing corporate funding and sponsorships. Repeatedly awarded for exceptional leadership in community affairs.
Board Experience: Served actively on Board of Directors and committees for major business and community associations, including MD/DC Minority Supplier Development Council, Bank of America Mid-Atlantic Foundation, First Book DC Local Advisory Board, and Capitol Hill Association of Merchants & Professionals.
Note how she brought her volunteer work (a definite bonus in the non-profit world) to the forefront on her resume.
Do you have a multifacted job search?
You will set yourself up for disappointment if the Internet is your only tool for sourcing new career opportunities; while the Internet is fast and convenient for a job search, it is the least effective method of making viable connections. Join professional and industry-related associations, alumni groups and Chamber of Commerce committees. Identify key industry leaders you want to meet, schedule informational meetings/interviews, and start building your own team of alliances.