Great to be a part of LinkedIn’s new feature #YouAsked. Here is my full answer about how to successfully get in front of the decision-makers when switching careers:
The good news is that the landscape of careers is changing, which is opening up many opportunities for career switchers. The not-so-great news is that hiring practices haven’t caught up yet and are primarily geared toward job seekers with traditional backgrounds, so many recruiters rely on limiting criteria like key words, former titles and years of experience when selecting who they’d like to interview.
As a former recruiter, I can tell you that these lists of traditional qualifications are used to narrow down the pool of applicants and to lure the most qualified candidates to apply, but are also biased toward traditional candidates. Of course, these criteria can also be a flawed measurement of “qualified” since you can be in sales for 10 years and also be the worst sales person ever.
As a career switcher, don’t despair! Rather, bypass the biased hiring systems by networking into the roles that you’re seeking. LinkedIn is a great place to research companies to find your 1st and 2nd level contacts that can be your advocates. Then, show the decision-makers how your transferable skills make you qualified to excel. After all, what a company is most interested in is if you can succeed in the role and deliver results. Show that you are agile, resourceful and accomplished in the areas that are most relevant to the job by giving examples of how you’ve excelled previously in ambiguous or novel work projects. Confidence breeds confidence, so do your homework and bring your a-game to the table. Also, don’t downplay volunteer or life experience that has contributed to your knowledge and abilities. In the hiring world, all experience counts, whether or not you received a paycheck.
A career switcher trying to succeed within traditional hiring practices will always face a brick wall. The key is to get beyond the inherent bias in the recruiting system by creating your own path to the decision-makers via your network, and then showing them through concrete examples of similar projects that you can deliver the goods.