Almost half of us yearn for change in career; wishing for a better salary, increased work-life balance or improved job satisfaction. Taking the brave leap into a new direction should be an exciting process, but to start with it can feel daunting.
Your CV can, on the face of it, seem full of irrelevant experiences and unrelated skills. You worry that the job titles you’ve held to date will put potential employers off from taking you seriously. It can be hard to know where to start on your new journey.
But changing your career can be done, with great success. Take heart from examples such as Julia Child, who spent her life in advertising, media and secret service before launching her career as a celebrity chef at the age of 50, and Walt Disney, who was sacked as a newspaper editor because ‘he lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.
In this day and age, we’re lucky to have incredible online tools to support us on our new path. The best of these is undoubtedly LinkedIn which, when used correctly, can become a catalyst for career change. Here are our tips for using LinkedIn to maximise your chances of success.
It’s tempting to showcase yourself as an expert in both your old field and your target one; to hedge your bets so to speak. But all this will do is confuse potential new employers. Instead, take the brave step of culling anything in the experience, skills and endorsements areas of your profile that isn’t relevant to your new career and reposition your profile to demonstrate crossover skills.
For example, if you’re currently in corporate sales and want to move into print media, your vast knowledge of the FMCG or financial services sector (or whatever type of business you worked for) is probably not relevant, unless you want to position yourself as an expert in that field. Your exceptional communication and persuasion skills, however, are fundamental requirements for someone in a media role.
Headline and Summary.
Now that you’ve realigned the body of your profile, it’s time to consider the areas that hook a reader in from the start; your headline and summary.
Your headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate; it’s the first thing that people see when they click on your profile. It’s critical that you make it stand out from the crowd. It’s auto-populated with your current or most recent job title, but you can adapt it to call out your change in direction. Of course, you won’t be able to display experience in your target field, but this is an opportunity to call out your relevant skills and outline your intentions.
If we use the sales to media example again, something like “A highly experienced communicator and negotiator, now looking for opportunities in print media” is likely to grab attention.
Now that you’ve got that attention, keep them reading with a compelling summary. This is your chance to demonstrate, in your own words, any past experiences and accomplishments that connect to your new target career.
Other LinkedIn tools that can help.
In addition to your personal profile, LinkedIn has plenty of other useful tools to help you with your transition. Joining groups in your target field will help you to grow your knowledge, network, and standing; your membership shows up on your profile so it shows you’re taking your transition seriously. Signing up for LinkedIn job alerts for listings in your new field will ensure you get early notification of opportunities. Finally, if you’re happy to make your intentions public, letting your network know that you’re on the lookout by posting an update will help you to rally support.
Changing career direction can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to consider the relevant skills you’ve already honed, you will be able to smoothly pivot in a new direction. LinkedIn provides a ton of powerful tools to help you on your journey. With a well-targeted profile, you’ll position yourself to make the change you desire.