Discussing a career change can be an uneasy subject, and an even more uncomfortable topic with a stranger. When it comes time to talk about it in an interview, you don’t want to freeze up or miscommunicate your intentions. You have to be prepared to answer the inevitable questions about changing careers, but how do you know what to say?
We spoke with Jaclyn Westlake, founder of The Job Hop, a career and job search strategy resource, who says there are three simple steps to easily talk about your career change.
In a job interview, you can be sure that the recruiter is going to ask why you decided to switch careers, so be ready to talk about your reasoning. Westlake says it’s a relatable topic because many people have thought about career changes, so don’t stress over what the other person thinks of your decision. Be honest in your reasoning and explain why you went into your past field and why you made a change.
Westlake says to respond with something like this, “I always had an interest in marketing, but math was my strongest subject in school. Becoming an accountant was a logical choice for me. But, after five years in the finance field, I decided that it simply isn’t what I was meant to do. So I started exploring marketing as a career.”
When discussing this, you should mention any courses or experiences you have with your new field. You want to show that you aren’t making a rash decision, but that you know this is a field you are highly interested in and passionate about.
After you have effectively explained why you switched, you need to pitch your transferrable skills, Westlake says. These are skills you gained in past jobs that apply to your new field. To justify why you’re a good fit for the new career, you need a good understanding of all the skills you gained in the past and which ones will be most beneficial now. Provide specific examples of how you have gained or used your skills, and explain how those experiences can be employed in the job you are applying for.
Lastly, Westlake says, “now is the time to brag about your wins.” These are the stories of your successes in your intended field. Discuss how this career change has made you feel more passionate and excited about your work. Talk about projects or tasks you completed that revolve around this new career.
Don’t be afraid to mention how well your other interviews for this career change are going. You want to show the hiring manager you are eager, confident in your abilities and willing to do what needs to be done. Close out the meeting with this positive attitude and you are sure to make an impression on the interviewer.
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