Changing Careers: How best to leverage your experience

Written by: Carrie Maldonado
Published on: 29 Aug 2015

    In previous generations, it was common to keep your first job through to retirement, climbing the ranks of management and senior management and retiring with an ample pension and fond farewell party. This is no longer the norm but the exception. Today’s workforce can expect to work at multiple companies and completely changing careers is becoming more and more the new normal. When you embark on a new career, it is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Conflicting with the sense of excitement about finally pursuing a passion can be the fear of leaving the familiar. If you are in the midst of changing careers, congratulations for having the courage to change. Even if you are pursuing something completely different, it’s highly likely you will have a wealth of transferrable skills you can leverage to your advantage when building your CV and conducting your new job search. Here are five highly sought after skills that transcend industry and can be used to your advantage in your new career.

    1) Communication

    The ability to communicate effectively with a variety of people is a requirement of almost every job. Written and oral communication skills are crucial tools of success and you can almost certainly use examples of exemplary communication from your previous job(s) to demonstrate your suitability for a new one. As a senior executive, you will have experience not only of delivering messages orally to key stakeholders, including members of the board, but also of written communications, including updates to your staff and shareholders. Being able to communicate effectively with different groups is a key skill you can use in any role. 

    2) Stakeholder Management

    This is an extension of ‘communication’, but incredibly important in more senior roles.  The ability to outline a vision, strategy or initiative clearly and concisely in order to inform, inspire or achieve buy-in is an incredibly valuable skill (just sit through a badly-executed presentation if you are in any doubt!). Whether you are acting as a change agent or delivering quarterly results to the board, strong presentation skills will certainly be an asset in your next venture. In addition, your ability to deliver bad news, while also planning solutions, is a critical skill you should have acquired as a senior leader.

    3) Leadership

    Leadership abilities are also extremely valuable to future employers. Regardless of the sector/disciplines involved in your old or new career, the ability to lead is a much sought after skill. Leading by example, creating new processes, setting the record for achievement and mentoring new employees are all examples of leadership beyond traditional management and supervision that can transfer from one career to another. If you have held a senior or executive leadership position you are well aware that tactical mastery is not a pre-requisite to leading people, so make sure to capitalise on your ability to motivate, inspire, and create stellar results through others.

    4) Project Management

    If you have the ability to plan and execute projects, co-ordinate resources, follow up and report on results and have examples of how and when you did this, it is a great skill to include on your CV. The organisational and follow through skills needed to execute projects are very valuable and should be highlighted whenever possible. Think of the major endeavours you have executed in project terms now, even if you didn’t at the time. How did you prepare, execute, follow up and ensure the team learned from any mistakes.

    5) Time Management

    Time management, or the ability to prioritise and manage a substantial workload while maintaining quality, is an excellent attribute to highlight. Most senior executives understand the importance of prioritising not only the “do’s”, but also the “do not’s”.  The ability to have mastered this and achieve a life balance is not only critical for a senior leader; the appreciation for and ability to teach it and model it to others is incredibly important. This is of high value and should be front and centre when changing careers.

    These are just five examples of what to include on your CV when looking to make your next move and ensure that you stand out. Tailoring your CV to the key skills you think are important to the role is just as vital as highlighting your industry experience. Make sure that you have considered this when putting your CV together or briefing a professional career coach or CV writer.

    Rest assured, your previous experience has not been in vain and will be of immense help in transitioning you to your new career.

    Carrie Maldonado, Talent Inc

    About the Author:

    As a certified HR Professional, executive coach and CV writer at CV Now, Carrie Maldonado divides her time between consulting with small to mid-size businesses and career coaching with executives in transition.  When not coaching or consulting, Carrie is a novelist, wife and mother to a daughter and twin sons.