How to Nail an Interview in Pursuit of a Different Career

It seems that many employers have at least two things in common amidst the booming economy: They’re hiring, but many are struggling to find candidates that possess the skills needed for open positions. As Society for Human Resources Management CEO and President Johnny Taylor put it, “The economy is hot, unemployment is low and the skills gap is wide.”

Many businesses have stopped being overly selective when it comes to candidates. In fact, according to the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study, they’re more willing to consider applicants who bring transferable job skills to the table – great news for job seekers contemplating a career change.

The MRINetwork Study found that approximately 8 in 10 employers acknowledged that they’re looking to hire people with versatile skill sets – ones that can carry over in a range of capacities. Employers, it seems, understand that experience isn’t everything, and recognize that as long as workers have transferable, on-the-job capabilities, hires can grow into their positions over time.

This comes as good news for today’s workers, nearly 30 percent of whom don’t like what they’re currently doing as an occupation, according to 2017 CareerBuilder poll. The survey also found that almost 40 percent of respondents wanted to go down a different career path in light of their dissatisfaction.

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said the skills gap is giving candidates in pursuit of a career change a unique opportunity.

“Arming themselves with what employers are looking for will help job seekers stand out from the competition – ultimately landing a new opportunity that will be more personally rewarding for them,” Haefner explained.

“Standing out” starts with the interview process, the first opportunity that allows job seekers to show what they’re capable of. Here are a few tips that can help you land a job despite not having industry experience.

Do your research

Business owners want to get to know candidates more, but they also want to see that potential hires have a working knowledge of the position they’re applying for. In light of this, speak to people you may know if they’re in a similar field. Go online to the hiring company’s website to learn about the firm’s history and how it got started. Doing your homework shows that you’re engaged and willing to go above and beyond to succeed. Respondents (37 percent) in the MRINetwork poll said a lack of enthusiasm about the job is among the top turnoffs detected among candidates during interviews.

Show your capabilities

It’s one thing to talk about your strengths, it’s quite another to show them. As noted by The Muse, it’s important to come to the interview with proof of how your skills can translate into a different line of work. This may include licenses, training certificates, sample work or letters of recommendation.

Key in on clear communication

Be it a firm handshake, maintaining eye contact or attentive listening, good communication skills are key to your success in virtually every workplace. Interviewers will be looking for signs of this indispensable asset as soon as you arrive. Of all the shortcomings cited by respondents in the MRINetwork survey, poor communication was referenced most often (41 percent). Focus on how you can demonstrate good communication skills by clearly enunciating words and not using “filler” language with too many “uhhs” or “umms.”

Anticipate the inevitable question

Having reviewed your resume, the interviewer will likely mention the elephant in the room: Why you’re pursuing a different line of work, or simply a different industry. As The Muse advised, plan ahead for this all-but-certain query by practicing what your response beforehand. You may want to actually say it out loud to a friend or family member for feedback. The key is to focus less on discussing your dissatisfaction with your current role, and more on how your prospective role will make better use of your skills and talents.

Some of the most successful people in the world change the direction of their careers. Don’t let a lack of experience prevent you from pursuing your passion. You can start anew by nailing the interview.


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