Several years ago I decided to switch careers to work in higher education. I found myself without any specific education work experience, yet I was able to land an amazing job at a university. I was able to utilize my network and get an interview. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips to help:
- Tell everyone you are looking for a new job. Don’t be afraid to tell people you are looking for a new job. In fact, tell everyone you know. I know too many people who keep it a secret. This is a mistake. The more people who know, the more people who can help. You can tell people to not shout it out that you are looking for a new job, but don’t let fear of your boss finding out hold you back in this area. Getting the word out to people is critical in a job search.
- Find someone you know at the company where you are applying. I can’t tell you how many times I found out someone I know applied for the company I worked for, but didn’t tell me. This is a huge missed opportunity. Utilize LinkedIn to see if you can track down someone you know, or get someone you know to contact someone they know, to contact someone at the company. A great example of this is when a former employee of mine called me to let me know he’d seen a job opening at the university where I worked. He asked me to write a recommendation for him. I ended up forwarding his resume directly to the hiring manager. She was so excited to get a personal referral, and ended up hiring him.
- Shop your resume around. Send your resume to friends and associates asking them to forward it to others they know in the industry — even if there isn’t a job opening right now. I found my job in education this way when my husband forwarded my resume and it landed in the right VP’s email at the school where I wanted to work. I got a call for a meet and greet, and as luck would have it, the timing was right. This VP had an opening I was perfect for and I got the job.
- Utilize social media. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current and learn how to use LinkedIn for a job search (see point #2). Also, utilize Facebook and Twitter to highlight areas of interest that apply to the new career you want to get into. This is a great way to showcase skills you may not use in your current job. Follow companies you want to work for and engage them on Twitter.
- Get certified. For many careers, like education, you need an advanced degree or certification. I realized this after working in higher education and trying to switch to a different university. Every job I was interested in required a Master’s degree, but I didn’t have one. It takes time and planning, but gaining a degree or certification in the area you want to work can give you an advantage over other applicants. I learned the hard way after losing a great job opportunity that I thought I was a shoe-in for. It went to a guy who had a Master’s.
If you believe in yourself, utilize your network, continue to gain experience, you can land that dream job. Next week I’ll talk about how I transitioned from a safe full-time job that I loved to follow my dream of owning my own business.