Career switching. I still remember when I made the decision to do so. I was absolutely terrified, but so relieved at the same time. I knew the field I was in at the time was not the field I wanted to be in any longer. It was an entire process that I had to go through to get ready for the career change, and it took several months from the time I decided to switch careers to actually getting a job in my new career field.
This post is going to center around the best advice I can give to anyone who is also interested in switching careers. The advice will be general, but I’ll use specific details about my personal change from news to PR/Marketing.
Do Your Research and Narrow Down Which Field You’d Like to Switch to
I think deciding what field you’d like to switch to is more than half the battle. While you might not like your current field, I don’t think it’s smart to blindly go searching for another job. You have to sit down and think about if there’s anything you like about what you currently do and what kind of fields/positions will allow you to do that. Even if it takes awhile, I wouldn’t rush the process. Changing careers is a huge step and one I personally only want to make once, so make sure whatever you are considering switching to is something that you are passionate about and can see yourself doing long-term.
For me personally, although I hated news, there were elements of it that I still loved deeply. I loved finding unique stories. I loved storytelling. I loved managing social media. I loved problem solving. I loved a lot of it. So while I knew News wasn’t necessarily the specific niche for me, I knew Communications was the field I wanted to be in, so I started looking up different positions and reading their descriptions to see what appealed to me the most. It became apparent that either a Public Information Officer or Communications Specialist were the two positions that would make me most happy, so I dedicated my time and energy into getting one of those jobs.
Make Sure Your Resume Reflects the New Position You are Applying for
It doesn’t matter how different your current job and dream job are. Do not let the differences make you believe that you have no relevant skills to your dream job, because I guarantee you do! I would look at several different job descriptions and duties of the position you are hoping to attain and see what skills you have that correspond to those and add them to your resume. I know some people tailor their resume to each position they apply for, but I think if you have a broad representation of your skills on your resume, then that will suffice.
Since I decided to stay in the Communications Field, my degree was still very much relevant. However, if you are trying to make a jump to a completely different field, your degree is STILL relevant! Most companies want college educated employees, so even if your degree doesn’t exactly line up to what you’re applying for, still state it and then explain in your skills section and cover letter why you would be a good fit for the job. That is going to mainly be what they look at anyway.
As a news reporter, I initially thought my skills were too focused to ever consider leaving. I mean my daily duties only included shooting and editing video, appearing on camera, and writing web stories right? Wrong!
Here is what my resume looked like when I was applying to other news jobs.
After thinking about it, I realized my skills were so much broader. I multi-tasked several projects a day on tight deadlines. I gathered information quickly to report on breaking news. I managed several social media accounts to keep the audience engaged throughout the day. I interviewed key people about different, interesting stories. Once I realized this, I knew the sky was the limit.
I asked my friends for their resumes as a reference and looked up tons of things about resume writing. I edited my resume copy to reflect what I was capable of, and used Canva to find a template. I’ve seen mixed reviews on what employers like resumes to look like, but I can say the majority seem to like the modern age of resume. Even if they aren’t a fan, there’s no denying it’s eye catching. Canva gives you access to hundreds of resume templates that you can take and edit yourself, playing with colors, the layout, etc. You can then make it your resume!
Here is what my resume looked like after editing the content and using a Canva template.
Note: For my next job, I am planning on hiring a freelancer from Fiverr to write my resume for me. Although my current resume found me my job in Minneapolis in no time, I was really struggling at first. I had someone explain to me that most online databases have a tool that automatically weeds out certain resumes, so you have to know how to navigate these tools! Chances are, a real person did not look at your resume for more than half the jobs you applied to. The computer system just sorted you out into the denial group, which is unfortunate. In order to better navigate these systems for when I am ready to move on to the next level, I am going to hire a freelancer who can give my resume a complete makeover. This probably won’t be for the next year or so, but when I do, I will absolutely blog about my experience with that.
The Best Resources to Find Jobs
Finding jobs is so different now, and it also depends on your industry. While I was in news, there was several websites that only posted news-related jobs, so I mainly spent my time on there. However, once I made the decision to go out of news, I didn’t really know where to start.
I figured LinkedIn would be a good tool, especially the Premium account. For $30/mo, you get access to who’s viewed your profile, have the ability to direct message recruiters, can see how you compare to other applicants who apply for jobs through LinkedIn, get salary insights and get access to exclusive educational content and interview preparation materials.
Personally, I found the direct messages to recruiters and comparison to other applicants to be the most useful, but didn’t really think it was worth the price. I paid for it for about four months, and applied to dozens of jobs on there, but as far as I know, it didn’t really give me any special advantage.
Another resource I loved was Government Jobs. They save all your information so you don’t have to refill things out every time, like some places have you do. It’s really easy to search and navigate as well. Personally, I would love to have a government job one day. The pay and benefits are unmatched!
After applying to dozens of jobs around the country, we finally settled on Minneapolis after Myles got a promotion with his company. I continued to use LinkedIn to look up jobs but then decided to branch out. I was initially hesitant to use Indeed. I thought it was dated and that no one really used it anymore. After some deliberation, I decided to give it a try, and surprisingly loved it! For jobs directly posted on Indeed, you can just attach your resume to the application and it’s off to the hiring manager! For the jobs not posted directly on Indeed, they post the links to the company site that you can apply to, so all around an easy process.
I applied to my current job on Friday, and got a call back from the hiring manager (my now boss) on Monday to come in for an interview Tuesday! So Indeed is definitely high on my life of great job searching resources.
Nailing the Interview
I’ve been working since I was 16, so I like to think I have a good amount of interview experience. All my interviews have been vastly different, so you have to be prepared for anything! Here are some general tips I have that almost always helped me nail the interview.
- Research the Company Beforehand
This is a big thing that I honestly don’t think too many people do. Even I’m guilty of it! For an internship while I was in college, I was asked what I liked about their show. I didn’t even know they had a show! It was ridiculous how unprepared I was. Luckily, I was able to still impress them and landed the internship, but I don’t think I deserved it. Now, any time I have an interview, I do thorough research of the company. I make sure to know little facts about them, the position and the person interviewing me.
- Have an idea of answers to the most basic interview questions
Even though every interview is different, I’ve always been asked a couple basic interview questions. For example, name a challenge you had at your last job, why would you be good for the position, etc. While you don’t want to memorize answers and sound like a robot, I think it’s smart to have a general idea of answers to the basic questions you know are coming.
- Come with questions about the company/position
This. This goes right along with doing research about the company. While it’s good to know about the company beforehand, you should also list things you want to know more about! I always come with 3-4 questions to ask at the end of the interview, and this has always been met positively. Employers appreciate that you took the time to learn more about them and having questions gives off the vibe that you’re excited for the job.
- Dress professionally for all interviews– even phone ones!
This might sound silly, but I firmly believe in it! While interviewing for jobs all over the country, most first interviews are phone interviews. While it may be tempting to just roll out of bed and wait for the call, I highly recommend against it. You need to be in a mental state ready for a professional interview. Every phone interview I had, I did my makeup, hair and wore a dress. I sat at my table with my headphones in and acted like I was sitting in front of the person, even though they could not see me at all. It helped my confidence and I’m sure the people on the other end picked up on it.
- Arrive early
Speaks for itself. Arrive at least 5 minutes early, although I think 10 minutes is good to aim for.
- Bring a pen and paper to take notes
I always bring a pen and paper to take notes on. During the interview, I ask if it’s okay to take notes, and the question is always met with a smile and a “yes!”. Again, it shows your enthusiasm about the job!
- Let your personality shine through the interview– don’t let nerves take over!
I’m not really a nervous person at all. Certain things throughout life, yes of course, but never with interviews. I’m always more excited than I am nervous. The main thing I always do is try to let my personality shine through. I don’t come off as a robot or boring employee. I want them to know I’m funny, outspoken, everything. It’s always worked in my favor as well.
- Send a follow-up email thanking them for your time
Always always always send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. I typically send a few hours after or first thing the next day, depending on what time the interview was. I always add something in about being excited for the next step about the process and how it sounds like a great place to work.
There’s no doubt that my current position was the most formal interview process I had. My first interview was one on one with my boss, the company’s Director of Marketing and Communications. She had my resume in front of her with certain things highlighted along with a blank piece of paper for her to take notes. We talked for over an hour, about my experience, what my daily duties were, why I wanted to switch fields, a little of everything.
Personally, I was honest about switching careers. I didn’t try to sugarcoat anything at all. Oddly enough, reporters are generally known to be overworked and underpaid. I described the stress and frustrations with reporting, and discussed how I could be an asset in the position.
After the interview, I waited a couple hours and sent a follow-up email thanking my boss for her time and the opportunity. She replied the next day inviting me to a second interview the following week, this time with her and three of the company’s senior executives.
For this interview, I continued to do research on the company as a whole and the three executives. When the interview came, everyone was so nice. They all wanted to know about me, why I wanted to switch from reporting, if I was sure about my decision and wouldn’t just test out the marketing field and go back to reporting, things like that. I firmly assured them that was not the case, and expressed my interest in working for the company. The interview lasted a little over an hour.
After leaving, I waited until the next day to send a thank you email to my boss and the three executives. Several hours later, after contacting my references, my boss called me to offer me the position, with the salary I asked for! One of the happiest days of my life.
Dedicate Your Time and Energy to Your New Position– Prove Your Worth!
Not to sound arrogant, but I like to believe I hit the ground running when I started my new job. I was eager to learn my new role, and still am today. I’ve completely absorbed myself into learning as much as I can from my boss, from reading about marketing/communications/public relations in my off time, from just making sure I’m doing everything to the best of my ability, every day. This position has been a fresh start and second chance for me, and I have no plans to mess this up at all.
Switching careers can be a great thing. It has been one of the best decision I ever made in my life. I tried to touch on the entire process, but if you have any additional question, feel free to drop a comment or fill out my contact form. As always, thanks for reading 🙂