You want to try your hand at working in another field. You know your skills and background can be a good match for something different, but you don't have everything an employer is looking for in the new field.
Not sure whether it's worth your while to apply? It's a big decision, especially in the middle of a recession. But if you do a bit of research, ask yourself some tough questions, and use online resources to evaluate your transferable skills, you should have a better idea whether to go for it … or wait it out.
The first thing you should do is look at company web sites or a general job board for descriptions of jobs you're targeting. A well detailed job description will detail most of the duties and responsibilities of the job, along with both the minimum and preferred — or desired — qualifications (the must-haves vs. the nice-to-haves).
Then, ask yourself these questions:
- How well do my skills and background fit this job description?
- Does my experience give me the skills to perform this job?
- How well do I know the industry?
- Do I meet the minimum requirements?
- Are there any preferred requirements – something that could stand out - that I should play up in my resume?
Examine the descriptions closely and highlight words and phrases that match or come close to your skills and background.
Focus first on the minimum requirements that can apply to your work history. Let's say the ad calls for excellent customer service skills or the ability to juggle several projects simultaneously, skills that, on the surface, can apply to many industries. If you possess many of the minimum requirements, move on to the preferred requirements and see if – and where - you might have an advantage over other candidates.
Do you need some help matching your talents and background with a job in a different industry? Try the O*Net Content Model, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. This framework was developed using research on job and organizational analysis and reflects the characteristics of occupations and job seekers. The model can also help you apply occupational information within your industry.
Let's say you're a purchasing professional but you take great pride in your abilities to listen to others, perceive problems quickly, and help solve personal issues. You're good at purchasing, but you'd really prefer a more people-oriented position that will let you exercise those interpersonal skills. A critical part of the O*Net model lists several cognitive abilities — such as listening and perception — and can help you determine what kind of work may be right for you.
Have you changed industries recently? If so, how close a match were your skills with the employer's needs? How did you handle your first weeks on the job? Let us know.
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