Looking to Switch Careers? Don't let an experience gap get in your way

Looking to Switch Careers? Don't let an experience gap get in your way

Having multiple careers is something we are all going to have to get used to as the average retirement age increases and disruption from technological change intensifies This new norm is explored in the book ‘The 100 Year Life’ and is a great read if you are currently trying to get more comfortable with the idea of making the leap in to an area in which you have no existing experience.

The book highlights the need for ‘transformative skills’ - ones which are transferable and adaptable across work environments - as being the most important to develop and nurture for an individual wanting to change career paths. These skills, which will stay with you across roles, provide a strong foundation from which you can showcase your capabilities to future employers.

This article draws on the feedback we see at IndustryCV, a premium CV and job application feedback provider, from industry professionals who assess candidates looking to switch careers, often with an experience gap. We highlight some Dos and Don’ts when addressing these gaps in your CV, and how best to showcase your ‘transformative skills’.

DO Set The Tone Early

Setting the tone early is important for all CVs but particularly when you are trying to convince a hiring manager to take the risk of employing you without any direct experience.

One way of doing this is by being confident in your personal statement and giving some insight into your character to start building a rapport with the reader. Highlight personality traits such as ‘enjoy a challenge’, and ‘eager to learn new things’, to start putting the reader at ease with the idea that you are someone who can thrive from change rather than being overwhelmed.

E.g. “I am always seeking my next challenge both personally and for my career, an example of this is that I have just started taking Spanish classes to help me communicate better with my South American work colleagues”

DO Explain Your Motivations

Giving context around why you want the move is a good idea as it can help the reader understand your motivations and buy in to the idea of you as a feasible candidate. It will also help them to frame the rest of your application as if they have bought in to why you are doing this they will be more likely look to see the relevance of your indirect experiences and skillset.

Potential examples of this could be a collaborative project at work which gave you first hand insight in to the workings of a different department and inspiring you to look for a move. Or maybe you have been studying part time alongside your current role to develop a personal interest in another area and you now feel ready to take the corresponding leap in your career.

Being explicit with your motivations adds to the narrative of a motivated and capable candidate looking for a well thought out career move.

E.g. “Having worked as an accountant for three years, I am now looking for an HR position post a recent internal collaborative project which highlighted my desire for a more people focused role.”

DO Focus On What You Can Bring To The Party

This is all about showcasing those ‘transformative skills’ and capabilities that you can bring with you to the new role and could even set you apart from the competition who may not have such a strong lateral skillset.

These skills will most likely be soft skills and will be flexible enough to be relevant in your new role. These skills could involve communication, organisation or people skills, or it could just be a very strong network of contacts or knowledge base in a particular area which you could call upon. The important thing for you is to communicate what this skillset is and how it can benefit your new employer.

E.g. “Having worked in Operations for the last four years I believe the organisational skills I have acquired, alongside the communication and relationship skills I have developed as the team’s elected representative, provides me with a strong foundation from which to move in to a more client focused role”

DON'T Talk About What You Don’t Know

One piece of feedback that we consistently see at IndustryCV concerns the incorrect use of industry terminology. You can understand the temptation from a candidate to drop in industry buzz words to try to convince the reader they are knowledgable about the industry but the reaction if used incorrectly is profound.

It is not just the incorrect understanding which gets picked up by our reviewers but the fact it implies a potential overconfidence in regards to what the candidate thinks they already know about the role. This automatically puts question marks against your character for the employer.

We came across a recent example of this with the incorrect use of the abbreviation CRM (Client Relationship Management) by a marketing applicant which was picked up by our reviewer. The candidate had minimal marketing experience but this slip up turned the application from being a genuine and transparent career change attempt in the eyes of the reader to a disingenuous blag.

In Conclusion…

Don’t let an experience gap stop you from applying for the job you want! Be confident and set the tone early that you are someone who can embrace change and make a success of it.

Don’t ignore the issue but set a clear context and explanation of your motivations - your personal statement at the start of your CV is a good place for this. This should frame the rest of your CV for the reader to allow you to showcase the ‘transformative skills’ you can bring to the table rather than focusing on what you are missing.

And most importantly - Good luck!

IndustryCV is premium CV and job application feedback provider using reviewers who are industry professionals involved in the hiring process at their firms. Quality and tailored feedback from the people that matter will allow you to take your application to the next level and maximise your chances of landing your dream job! See how we can help you here.

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