Returning to a former career path

Friday, January 30th, 2009 - career change, career transition, Job Application, job search


Career Management

Magic Tree

A number of people in this modern world have changed and developed their careers in various, but at the time logical, directions. Some, and a growing number of them, find they have chosen the wrong career path, or just want to go back and do something which they see as simpler and less stressful. This means trying to persuade an employer of two things:

  • That you do have the skills specified, even though you may not have used them in a few years
  • That this career change won’t be followed in another couple of years by another career change choice

If you look at it from the employers view point, you can see the scale of the risk in their eyes. Here is a typical problem, and how we would solve it in the CV:

Steve Cohen MBA asks: How can you handle common recruiter and HR misunderstandings involving your resume? I’ve found that many recruiters tend to focus only on your current position, ignoring all past experience and education. If your current position doesn’t even require education and your time in it is a small fraction of your total experience, then how do you go about getting recruiters to come to you with positions that do match your background ?

A second problem I’ve found is that if you list an address on your resume recruiters will come to you with positions in that state alone. For most people this is a non-issue, but if for example you live in a town across the state line from a major city then you find that you draw in recruiters with jobs in the burbs and that your resume ignored by recruiters in the city lol. For example if you live in a WA suburb of Portland Oregon, or if you live in Hudson County New Jersey which is more part of NYC than it is part of NJ.  How can you rework a resume to resolve these 2 obstacles ? :
1. recruiters ignoring your background and education and focusing only on the current position
2. recruiters coming to you with positions in the wrong state, due to a metro area that spills across state lines.

Thank you in advance

In answer:

Looking at your training and business accomplishments Steve, you clearly have a great set of skills. Your question now is – why are these potential employers not picking up on them?

Looking back at your career summary on LinkedIn, I am guessing you are trying to apply for posts which deploy your Oracle Financials skills, which are almost four years old? If you are applying for posts associated with your last two positions for T-Mobile or Robert Half Technologies, then the problem is wholly in the way your CV is constructed. Almost any employer should pick up the phone to call you and discuss a test or PM post deploying those skills.

The problem from the employers view is two fold:

  • How up to date or relevant are the skills you are trying to use for their post?
  • Is this a permanent career choice, or just a return to something?

To address the first issue, you need to show conclusively that you have kept the skills – and ideally training – up to date. HR professionals will look at the last three to five years of employment track record to check relevancy of skills, so something you deployed four years ago is just outside the key dates from their view point, but sellable. In the view of the employer, relevancy is defined by: what projects have you done deploying those skills; what training have you undertaken; what seminars have you attended; what papers or magazines do you subscribe to – and lowest relevancy, have you read? If you can’t show evidence of keeping up the skills, how do you expect an employer to accept you can do the job?

On the second issue of career path choice/returning to an earlier path, you need to focus in your Cover Letter as to why you are making this positive choice of change. Don’t talk about failure or stress, talk about enjoyment and energy and how you feel invigorated to do something you wholly enjoy. State that you have looked at you career, investigated a number of paths, and talked to family members, and the whole choice is that this was what you are happiest and best at doing. This shows both thought, investigation, feedback, support and planning: something different from the “is it a whim of a choice” question in the HR professionals mind.

Steve, you have a great set of skills, as with any CV/resume it is now a question of selling the why you/why this choice to any potential employer. The problem you are facing is in your CV/resume presently by what it is communicating – or not – to anyone who reads it, against the post you are applying for. Focus on the key of relevant skills/positive career choice and I think the problem you perceive will quickly go away.

If I can help further, help just ask – and Good Luck!

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