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Our pace of life had sped up drastically over the past few decades, and the processes that used to take years now take place in a few months. For previous generations it used to be very normal and even an honorable thing to work in one company for an entire career. Now things have changed, professional growth is valued over stability, so people tend to get experience in different projects within different organisations, and to change their workplace every 3 to 7 years. That means they are reaching the top of their career paths in 10 to 15 years. This brings us to the situation where it’s common not only to change a company more often, but even to change profession a couple of times during your working life. Also, sometimes people simply understand that the choice of career they made as a university graduate wasn’t the correct one, or they would just like to explore other opportunities in different areas. However, changing a career, being an established professional with a proven track record and vast expertise may be really stressful.

What may help to make this process smoother?

1. Demonstrate your soft skills

Nowadays soft skills are very highly valued by employers and sometimes may outweigh a lack of professional experience in a particular area. That doesn’t mean that being flexible, proactive and a good communicator is all you need to get any job you want without any experience at all, however, in so many cases an employer may choose a less experienced candidate with more advanced soft skills and higher potential rather than a very experienced candidate with poor soft skills.

2. Emphasize your strengths and transferrable skills

There are so called transferrable skills that may be valuable in many different areas. Let’s say you used to work as an accountant and you’d like to make a career shift to software engineering. Your attentiveness to details and ability to work with numbers will be valued there as well. Make sure your strengths and skills will be noticeable to your potential employer.

3. Persue a new career within the industry you are experienced in

If you worked in some particular industry for a long period of time, shifting from one area to another within the same industry will be easier than just starting everything from scratch. Let’s say you’ve worked in a pharmaceutical company as a Field Sales Representative and you want to start a new career in marketing. Aim for roles in marketing within the pharmaceutical industry as your deep knowledge of this sphere may compensate for your lack of experience. You may even find some suitable roles within your current company.

4. Get yourself a portfolio of projects

The first thing an employer will be interested in is your actual experience in a particular area, so it’s important to prepare a portfolio of projects or cases that you’ve already managed to handle. Nowadays there are a lot of courses that provide you with an opportunity to work on real-life projects during the training and then include them in your CV. That’s one option. In your previous experience you may have worked on some projects that can be considered relevant to the new area you are applying for. Additionally, you can take some part-time freelance projects from someone you know, or from freelance exchanges, even if they are low-wage or no-wage to gain some experience.

5. Try to start with smaller companies or start-ups

For start-ups, specialists who can do a lot of different things at the same time are valued, and that is where you can prove yourself to be a good specialist in a new area. These companies are more likely to take someone with less experience but more proactive and with higher motivation and give them a chance to demonstrate their potential. In the start-up environment you will be more independent in your role and will be able to learn and grow and accumulate expertise in a new area faster. And as soon as the company starts growing and hiring new team members, you’ll be the one to train them and manage them in the future.

6. Demonstrate your high motivation and validate it

A high level of motivation may serve you just as well as well-tuned soft-skills, and can persuade the emolyer to choose you over some of the other candidates. However, simply to show that you are interested in the role and the company may not be enough. Your motivation should be clear and transparent for the employer, especially if you are changing your career to a new sphere. Mention this in your cover letter, discuss it in the interview, talk about your future plans to connect your professional path with this new area, explain why you have decided to make such a move and what you have already done towards moving in this new direction. This will show that your intentions are serious.

Shifting to a new sphere is always challenging, however applying these few tips will help you to make this process a little smoother and easier.

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