My area of specialization was hard hit in the economic downturn, and I have been laid off twice in two years. I am looking to take my career in a different direction but can't get my foot in the door; everyone is scared off because I am a CPA with 13 years of experience. I understand that to learn something new I will need to start at a lower level -- but how can I convince employers that I am willing to make such a sacrifice?
-- Ellen, New York City
Demonstrate that you are shifting careers by design, not by default. The greatest concern employers have about career-changing, overqualified candidates is that they are simply biding their time and will flee at the first opportunity. Use a three-pronged approach to address employers' concerns and convince them that you are worth the risk.
Get passionate about your new direction.
Focus on what you really want to do, why you really want to do it and what you bring to the table in this new arena. Making the shift by design rather than default will give you a greater sense of confidence, and your enthusiasm will convey your commitment.
Create supporting documentation
. Revamp your resume with an objective that speaks directly to the new field and position you are seeking. Support your objective with a skills summary that fills the top third of your resume so that your direction is clear to potential employers. To reinforce the content of your resume, use a targeted cover letter that further explains your interest in and unique qualifications for the field you are entering. Take the extra step of making up business cards that reflect your new direction, as well.
Start living the change.
Don't wait to be hired to immerse yourself in your new career. Take a class. Read regularly the trade journals of your field, either through subscription or by visiting the library. Join a professional association with the intention of becoming active on at least one committee. This type of initiative on your part will foster learning, connect you with potential colleagues and allow you to assume the identity of a professional in your new field of choice.
From CareerJournal November 2004
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