In this article, I share my experience and tips on how to make a major career change.
First, I wanted to share a little about my background. I graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering about 7 years ago. I currently work in technical marketing/business development in the building industry, but I started my career in Civil Engineering design. After a year and a half of working in design, I realized that I wanted to try something else. I then worked in construction for 3 years as a field engineer. I was learning and growing very quickly, and I was having a lot of fun.
After working in construction for 3 years, I started considering whether or not this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my career life. The decision didn’t feel right to me, and I couldn’t imagine myself working in construction for my entire career. I started noticing that I was really interested in sales and business. After doing some research, I made the decision to make the change.
I wanted a career path more aligned with my desire to develop relationships and learn about business. I then became determined to land a business development role. But, I was also pretty nervous because I had only been out of college for 4 years, and I was already making my 3rd career change. I was also afraid of seeming flaky to potential employers, but I also knew that this move was important to me. Also, business development responsibilities are very different than engineering responsibilities; and I had to convince employers that I had what it took to be successful even though I had no previous experience in sales.
The interviews were definitely challenging. I questioned my ability to land a job working in anything other than engineering. I think I had around 40 interviews before I finally received my first offer. Through the process, I learned how to interview better and how to communicate my understanding of the responsibilities. One of the most important things I learned was how to draw from my current experiences and apply them to the responsibilities of my new role. Several of the people I know who are looking to change careers think that they don’t have enough experience to get hired in their new desired profession. Another way to think about this is “there are skills I can draw on from my current experiences that would help me in this new role”.
Career Change Tips
- Get A Mentor – Reach out to people who are currently working in the role you’re trying to obtain. Ask them to describe their job and responsibilities. Companies want to know that you have a strong understanding of what you are getting yourself into.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – Do as many mock interviews as you can. Different roles and industries will have specific technical questions that they will be asked during the interview. It’s in your best interest to get as much practice as possible. Here is a list of commonly asked interview questions during career changes.
- Draw On Your Experiences – I mentioned this one already but leverage your existing experiences as much as possible in your interviews. Explain to your employers why your current job experience will lend value to their goals. This demonstrates that you understand the companies goals and that you care about their growth.
- Be Familiar With the Subject – Study as much as you can about the company and the industry you’re transitioning into. Even if you aren’t able to study enough to be an expert, employers still appreciate the effort.
- Don’t Give Up – Keep trying even if you’re not having any luck. Be persistent. You will continue to learn from your interviews. Even if the rejection is painful, it’s so important to get back up and keep trying. Take extra courses, volunteer to get experience, and continue asking for feedback. The most important thing here is that you continue to improve yourself and demonstrate to employers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes.
If you’ve recently been affected by layoffs, check out my article here. Best of luck in your process! Please leave your thoughts below!