How to Explain a Career Change

Making a career change is not easy and one of the toughest parts about it is explaining your decision to potential employers.  Many employers become suspicious when they see someone changing careers.  Here are some tips that will help put the interviewer at ease about your background:

Outline Your Long Term Goals.  Often our destination remains the same, but we change the path that we take to get there.  There are a variety of reasons that may lead you to switch jobs.  If you can show the employer that each decision that you made was deliberate and contributed to your long term career goal, they will see your career change as a strategic move and not an indication that you are unfocused.

Sell Your Transferable Skills.  There may be a strong link between your previous job and the one that you are seeking, but if it’s not right in front of them, the employer probably won’t see it.  It’s your job to show them the connection.  Once the employer is aware of your transferable skills, they may realize that it’s not as much of a change as they thought it was.   

Be Positive.  Communicate your passion and excitement for the position.  If the employer perceives that you are not particularly excited about making this move, they may come to the conclusion that you are changing careers out of desperation.  Make it clear that this is something you chose.

Be honest.  Human resources professionals are skilled at reading between the lines and figuring out what you’re not saying.  If you are withholding the reason that you are changing jobs, most interviewers will detect that you are hiding something.  Be as honest as you can be about why you are changing careers, but never forget that you’re talking to an employer and not a priest.

Employers are naturally suspicious when interviewing potential employees and when you’re coming from a different field, they may trust you even less.  The key is to be open and honest and show the employer that everything that you have done has made you the perfect fit for this job.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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