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TITLE Re: Career Change
NAME DATE 11/25/2004 7:15:07 AM
CONTENTS Well, I will need more information in regards to your background.  Everything differs depending on your factors, what industry are you trying to go into, what industry were you in before you went for an MBA, how many years of experience do you have, etc., are only the basic questions that needs to be answered.  Furthermore, there isn’t anything in particular that you can do to make your change in career more smooth.

On the other hand, regardless what industry you were in or what industry you’re trying to go into, 2 things remain universal; after you research the fields and respective companies that you want to apply for, it’s all about how well you market yourself through your resume to get the interview, once you get the interview, how well you present yourself, especially by responding to the inevitable question/statement, “you don’t have any prior work experience in this field”.  So I’ll do my best to help you out in these two areas.

First off is your resume.  Keep in mind that more likely than not, it will be very difficult to get an interview for positions that you don’t have prior experience in, simply because the Employers would not be interested.  That is why your resume must focus on your skills that will allow for the Employer to think about your abilities and potential.  There are a few key ways of doing so.  As a given, you must state an “objective” section that states not only your interest in particular positions, but also your situation that you’re in a transition period with your career.  You can also try submitting a “functional resume”, which I mentioned in previous CCF replies that I often-times discourage such practices, but in certain times, it could help you.  

Lastly, and quite possibly the most important is that you must keep you resume contents (i.e. duties and responsibilities) vague… this does NOT mean that you’re trying to shorten your resume, but vague and general.  If you point-out very specific accomplishments and responsibilities from your previous work experience, it only reiterates to the Employer that you’re qualified for jobs that you have experience in.  But we’re trying to get the Employer to realize your potential.  If parts of your previous experience has direct releveance skill or otherwise, then it is a good idea to detail them out, however, if not, then we want to keep it general.  For example, if you had extensive accounting experience, and you want switch to marketing, you don’t want to emphasize all of your accounting experience, but rather try to communicate other aspects such as “meeting deadlines”, “working in a team and being reliant on your team members to finish a project”, etc.  

Once you get an interview, and you’re asked “how do you feel, given that you don’t have any previous experience in this field?”, it’s all about strategizing your answer to focus on what you do have and what you can do, rather than what you don’t have and what you can’t do.   You must structure your answer so that you get across the idea that you “possess the skills to succeed” in the position, while not making it seem like you are “avoiding the question”.  A simple and effective structure is 4-folds: 1) acknowledge that you may not possess the knowledge and technical know-hows of the business that you are applying for; 2) state that from your past experiences, you have acquired such-and-such skills that are vital to the position you are applying for; 3) give specific examples of such skills; 4) ask if you were clear in your answer and/or whether or not they would like to hear more.

Keep in mind, whether it’s your resume or your interview, it’s always capitalizing on what you do have and what you do know, and you must especially stress these points if you are in a major career shift.