Changing Careers? Advice from CUNY LEADS
CUNY LEADS (City University of New York Linking Employment, Academics and Disability Services) is a program of CUNY created to provide students with disabilities the skills to make realistic academic and career choices that will result in successful careers. CUNY LEADS will share job search insight on this blog on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.
People change careers at different times and for different reasons during their life. Some reasons may include:
- The desire to fulfill a dream or life goal.
- A change in the economy or labor market.
- A change in one’s personal life situation.
- A change in one’s interests.
- The onset of a disability making it impossible to continue in one’s field of employment.
Whatever the reason, changing careers can be exciting and simultaneously overwhelming. It is a time when one moves from the known to a new and less familiar environment. It is also a time of transition from being an experienced employee to one who is entering a new field.
Many of the CUNY LEADS students that we see are preparing for a career that is different from their former field of employment. They are pursuing an education to begin a new career. The questions that often arise are: how do I approach the job interview; how do I present my past experience; and, how do I account for gaps in employment?
Here are some suggestions for the job interview.
- Show that you already have well developed work skills
As one who has been in the work force for some time, you have developed the ‘soft skills’ of working with others, getting the job done, being reliable, etc. Be sure to let the employer know that you are an experienced person who will be an asset to the company.
- Make the employer aware that you bring additional skills to the job.
This is your opportunity to show that your background will enable you to be an added benefit to the company. In addition to your newly developed skills, you may have developed other expertise in the past that will be beneficial to the company. In other words, perhaps you are now pursuing accounting and may have worked in sales in the past. Your sales background can be a wonderful asset in your contacts with outside clients or other office staff.
- Be enthusiastic when discussing why you chose your new career.
This is the opportunity to explain in a positive manner why you are changing careers. It is the time to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the new field. It is also the opportunity explain gaps in your work history. For example, you may have been a homemaker or you may have had the onset of a disability making it necessary for you to develop new skills. Do not dwell on the past. Be clear and optimistic as to why you would be the best candidate for this position.
In your job search, always keep former employers in mind. If you had a good working relationship at a company there may be a spot for you in your new field. In other words, keep all of your options open, be creative, and use all of your networks in your job search.
Always remember to move forward. New challenges can bring new rewards and experiences. Good Luck!
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The views, opinions, or expressions provided by CUNY LEADS do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, or expressions of the City of New York and/or the New York City Department of Small Business Services.