Information, helpful advice, and commentary about topics relevant to relaunchers.

Building Blocks for a New Career

What do you do if you have to reposition yourself professionally, either because you realize you hate the kind of work you've been doing or because your field or function has been walloped by technology or market forces?

First of all, don't despair. And don't assume you have to go back to school to retrain. In many cases, you may have the building blocks for a new career within the skills you developed in your old one. Here's how to find out.

Generate options

Break down your old job(s) into the building blocks of what you actually do or did over the course of a week or a year. Then think about what new jobs, consulting gigs or even entrepreneurial ventures could be built from the blocks you like. For example, if you were an account executive at an ad agency, and you loved working with the creative team, then maybe you want to create your own small ad agency using freelancers and targeting clients that are below the big firms' radar. Or perhaps you want to work in the marketing department of a company, providing input and direction to an outside agency. Let yourself go when thinking about options. This is your time to brainstorm. Don't worry at this point about whether or not your ideas are feasible.

Assess options

The next step is to research which of the options you've generated are viable. Visit job boards (including company job boards) to see whether there are any openings like the ones you brainstormed. If so, what skills and experience do they require? But don't just look online. Get out and talk to people. Find out what backgrounds people have who work in the areas you're interested in. Don''t ask them for a job. Instead, ask them whether they think the skills you've developed would be useful in their field or department. Make sure you explore several options at once, since some of your ideas might be dead ends.

Revise your resume based on the most promising options

Use a summary at the top of your resume to reposition yourself. If you packaged mortgages but want to pursue more diverse roles in finance, start the summary with "Diverse finance executive . . ." Underneath the summary, bullet point the skills you possess that are critical for the industries and/or functions you're targeting, for example "financial analysis" or "project management."

Revise your elevator story

When you pitch yourself in person, focus on the skills you developed rather than your prior job title. For example, "I managed creative teams at X agency and now I'm looking to work in an in-house marketing role focused on creative." Develop more than one version of your resume and elevator story, if necessary, depending on how many radically different options you're exploring.

Revise your networking strategy

Along with a revised resume and pitch, you may need to revise your networking strategy as well. For example, if you're a mortgage packager currently seeking a financial analysis role outside of financial services, you'll have to expand your connections beyond Wall Street.

Make the case

Connect the dots for your potential new employer. For example, if you were a bond saleswoman interviewing for a job selling software to financial services firms you might say, "I think I'll be able to sell software to the financial services industry because I used similar software, and I'll know exactly how to anticipate and address users' concerns. Also, I think the sales skills I developed are transferable. And, finally, I have a lot of contacts at financial services firms."

You can find a full discussion of the Job Building Blocks career assessment process in Back on the Career Track. More info HERE.  


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