Throughout the course of your life, it is likely that you will be involved in as many as five separate careers, maybe even more. Still, the fact that everyone is likely to change his career at some point still does not make the task of changing careers an easy one. The main concern you should have going into an interview is whether you can convince the interviewer that your interest in this new industry and career is sincere.
Though you probably won't have much experience in exactly that field, be sure to point out all the skills that you have acquired in past jobs that could easily translate to this type of career. You should also feel free to think about the events that led to your decision to enter this profession and use that desire and dedication in answering the interviewer's questions.
Q: Why do you want to leave your current position?
YES: My current position has allowed me to learn a great deal about the plastics industry, and I am very glad to have had that opportunity. However, I've also found that my interests really lie in research and development, which my company has recently decided to phase out over the next two years. That is why I am so interested in your organization. As I understand it, your company places a great deal of importance on research and development and is also a highly respected leader in the industry.
NO: I like change.
The interviewer's foremost concern with career changers will always be why they want to switch careers. But people do it every day, so don't think you will not get the job just because you don't have any hands-on experience in the field. Show the interviewer that your decision to switch careers has been based on careful consideration. Explain why you decided on this particular position and how the position will allow you to further your skills and interests.
An understanding and knowledge of computers is the most sought-after skill in new employees. Electronic business directories allow you to identify companies that hire employees in your field and with your background. Also, using these resources to find a job demonstrates your computer savvy to an employer.
Q: Why would you want to leave an established career at an employment agency for what is essentially an entry-level marketing job?
YES: During my many years at the agency, I have acquired many valuable skills. At the same time, I feel as if I've stopped growing. There's only so far you can go in such a career, and I am nearing the end of the career path. I am no longer challenged by my work, and being challenged is what keeps me motivated. I've thought about this for a long time, as switching careers is not an easy decision to make. Still, I am confident that I am doing the right thing by looking for a job within another industry, even if it means starting over.
My interest in marketing arose last year when a local family lost their home to a fire. A group of people from my community decided to pitch in and help this family raise enough money to rebuild their home. I helped by designing and distributing posters, placing advertisements in local newspapers, and selling T-shirts outside grocery stores and shopping malls. When I began to see the result of what my work was doing, I became very excited about this task. I learned that you can have a great product and a great cause but that if nobody knows about it, you are dead in the water. I felt as if the work I was doing was making a difference—and I was good at it, too.
Since then, I have taken two introductory marketing courses and am planning to enroll in a part-time degree program this fall. Also, I'll be able to use many of the skills I've acquired working at an employment agency to benefit me in a marketing career as well. After all, working in an employment agency is marketing—that is, marketing the agency to corporate clients and job seekers, and marketing the job seekers to corporate clients.
NO: I am feeling rather bored and unchallenged and want to learn something new—anything, really.
The interviewer wants to determine two things: the candidate's motivation for choosing a new career and the likelihood that the candidate will be comfortable in a position in which she will probably have less power and responsibility than in previous jobs. To dispel the interviewer's fears, discuss your reasons for switching careers and be sure to show that you have a solid understanding of the position and the industry in general. Many candidates expect to start their new career in a job comparable to the one they held previously. The truth is that most career changers must start in a lower, if not entry-level, position in their new company to gain basic experience and knowledge in the field.