During a recent girls night dinner, the subject of career transitions came up. Several of us in the group are considering or are in the early stages of working towards a transition into a new type of position. As the dinner progressed and the drinks flowed, the conversation turned towards one ugly truth of career transitions.
“The certifications are fine,” one friend said, ” and they seem to be required if you want to transition into the kind of position I am seeking, even for entry level. But what about the entry level thing? I can’t start back over again from the bottom in my new field…not with my experience. It’s just not feasible financially or otherwise!”
That is when the conversation got interesting. The unfortunate reality is that if you are attempting to transition into a new field, even though you bring more experience with work, you will have to fall down the ladder a few rungs because you are a newbie to the field. This is one of the major considerations anyone in transition will need to address: how far down you can go and still make it. You should set a floor beneath your required salary, but recognize that in the beginning you may see a net loss. But don’t forget to look at other factors that might be able to compensate; maybe you can negotiate for more flex time, or a work-from-home arrangement or something of the like. Depending on your situation, that may make up for the cut in pay.
If you are in a situation where you can’t accept a pay cut at all (and there is no shame in that), then the focus of your applications and interviews with potential employers and recruiters should be on why they should pay you want you think you are worth, even though your experience may be on the thin side. One of the better ways to do this is to try and figure out what their specific pain points are, and how your experience and skills can alleviate them. If what you bring to the table will help solve a potential employers pain points, employers may be more willing to take a chance on you.
So how do you discover what their pain points are? This is where you need to brush off your best Sherlock Holmes skills. Try looking at:
- Job Announcements – Give the job announcement a good, thorough read. Anything they emphasize heavily could be a pain point they want to address. If you have a certain job title in mind, check out announcement boards like Monster, Indeed or Career Builder for that job title. Are you seeing a number of the same things emphasized in the open positions? It might just be a pain point.
- The Flip Side of Marketing – If you have a company in mind, take a look at their marketing and remember that there are two sides to every coin. Do they market themselves as a progressive, young company? Then I bet they have an issue with employee retention. Do they emphasize employee longevity? Then there is likely stagnation within their employee ranks.
- LinkedIn – Look up blogs, postings or comments by employees of the specific company or by industry experts. You can bet that if there is a pain point, you can uncover it in group discussion postings or in blog posts.
- Professional Association Publications – Does your job title have a professional association, and if so can you access magazines, blogs or even old conference schedules? These are guaranteed to help you find pain points.
- Google News Search – Search for the specific company and the job title in general. Are they getting ready to expand? Did they just win a big contract? Is there talk of expanding credentialing requirements for practitioners to address some issue? Those are definitely pain points.
Once you have identified the pain points, craft your application and resume to highlight how your experience can solve them, especially if you’ve faced the same pain point in your previous job. To view advice on certifications which require experience first, click here.