Question: What is the best way to show how experience in one field can translate to success in another; for example, going from teaching to project management? – Joe O., Arlington, VA
Answer: Years of experience in one field don’t have to prevent you from moving into another. Even if you only worked for six months or two years, there are likely transferrable skills you have that can move seamlessly into the next role. Whether this is your spot-on strategy knowhow or your writing wherewithal, identifying your top transferrable skills will serve you well and act as a great first step in moving towards your dream career.
Consider a summary at the top of your resume that highlights the special experience you’ve gained in prior roles and, in particular, your desire to change fields.
Similarly, consider changing your resume style from the traditional chronological to a skills-based one, which also gets your skill set front and center to hiring managers.
Set achievable goals with specific deadlines. This can be anything from setting a 3-month mark to update your resume, a 6-month mark to garner interviews, and a 12-month mark to accept a potential offer. This can help prevent you from getting sidetracked on your quest to don another hat.
Assess your current skill set and weaknesses. If you are looking to change fields, it’s important to understand possible limitations to doing. If, say, you know you want to switch to maintaining a donor database, either brush up or learn how to navigate Raiser’s Edge. Just because you never had a certain responsibility in your previous role shouldn’t prevent you from learning outside of the office!
Crossing over to another field is daunting but possible with the right amount of grit and tenacity. As with most things, getting started is the most challenging part. What you might find after making the first move, however, is a dream career at the end of the tunnel!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.