Are you considering a career change? We feel for you!
It can be tough to realize that the role or field you’ve dedicated years of your life to isn’t working out. So tough that you start wondering how you’ll ever make a change and maybe even develop the discouraging sense that you can’t make the change yourself–that if you’re going to have any chance at all, it’s up to someone else to give you a lucky break.
If you find yourself feeling insecure about your prospects for a new job and starting to think you need a hiring manager or recruiter to “take a chance on you,” it’s time to check your attitude. Wanting a lucky break might seem like an innocent enough idea, but in reality, it does a great disservice to you, your prospective employer, and your job hunt. Here’s why:
Where does this idea come from?
The origin of this idea could be that grandparent’s story we’ve all heard about showing up in the office and being so persistent that, despite a lack of work experience and a naive approach to business, they got the job. Another source might be the despair that comes with a career change–we doubt ourselves, our decisions and our ability to do something new, so we put the pressure on someone else to make it happen.
Why is this idea unhealthy?
First, this attitude dismisses all of your skills and qualifications and removes your power from the situation. Instead of being a smart, talented candidate, you’re acting as if you’re unqualified, desperate, and in need of a favor. Not only is that a damaging way to think about your own career, but–outside of a lot of pressure from mutual connections–no hiring manager in their right mind would consider you a front-runner for the job.
Second, and most important to your case, this attitude kicks off a professional relationship by expecting someone else to put their necks on the line for you. It sets up hiring managers as cruel gatekeepers to your dreams who just need to have mercy on you; and if they don’t, it’s not your fault–they’re just mean.
In reality, hiring managers are honest people trying to do their jobs. When they read your resume, they’re thinking, “Does it make sense for me to hire this person for this job?” and, “Am I reasonably certain they can perform this job with the regular amount of training?” If the answer isn’t an obvious yes, they could get in trouble for hiring you, and it could have serious consequences for them!
Wherever we get the idea that “we just need someone to give us a chance,” it’s important to understand that job-hunting has changed over the past 10 years. It’s no longer difficult for employers to find candidates with bachelor’s degrees and industry intern experience, so they rarely need to resort to hiring an unknown entity or sit poring over a resume trying to figure out how your skills can work for them.
What should you think about instead?
Remove the idea of getting a lucky break or a once-in-a-lifetime chance from your mind. Turn your attention towards things that you actually have control over: a compelling cover letter that explains the passion and careful thought behind your career change and a resume highlighting the transferable skills that make you a good fit for the job you want. Make it your goal to show hiring managers and recruiters that they aren’t taking a chance on you; they’re making a hiring decision that will bring new insights, skills and talents to the role they’re looking to fill.
When you find yourself standing at the beginning of a career change journey, it’s natural to feel intimidated. But keep in mind that you’re not alone. While this might be your first career change, others have gone before you and made the leap with great success and still more have made significant pivots in their career that add up to big changes, too. Surround yourself with a support network, tap into the resources here on Glassdoor, and take a chance on yourself!