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VOL. 130 | NO. 133 | Friday, July 10, 2015

Angela Copeland

How to Change Careers Later in Your Life

ANGELA COPELAND | Special to The Daily News

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This week, a reader reached out to me with a question many people are facing. She says, “A friend is seeking to leave education after 13 years and re-enter business where she worked as a tech writer. She teaches math and computer science and is incredibly detail-oriented, smart, concise and reliable. … I was wondering if you had any advice for someone changing careers – or going back to a career after a decade-long hiatus.”

This is such an excellent question. Many people face this issue later in their career, when they want to do something new or return to a previous career field. They face two main challenges.

First, applying online is more difficult when you’re changing industries. The applicant tracking systems won’t typically identify you as a fit for the positions you’re applying to. Second, hiring managers will judge you. They want to put you into a neatly packaged box, so to speak. When you fit into more than one box, they’ll have a tough time knowing how to best utilize your skills.

My first recommendation is that the job seeker update her resume. Add a profile section at the very top that highlights who she is and why she’s a great fit. Be sure to also include transferable skills that will carry over from previous careers. For each position, feature accomplishments that would be useful in the future career. In this case, the job seeker may show how her background teaching computer science allowed her to stay up to date with the latest technology. She’s also probably a great communicator, because she spent years teaching.

She should ensure she’s signed up for LinkedIn and has an up-to-date profile. Recruiters and hiring managers really do use this popular website as a tool to select candidates. Then, order personal business cards. The business cards should contain all her pertinent contact information but leave out a particular job title.

Once the resume, business cards and LinkedIn are all in place, it’s time to network. The thing about switching careers is that you need to find someone who will buy into you. It’s much more personal than just applying through a web browser online. This job seeker will need to meet her future hiring manager. They need to be so convinced that she’s amazing that they’re willing to overlook the fact that she doesn’t fit the normal mold of a candidate.

In the world of technology, this is easier than in some other fields. In almost any large city around the world, there are a number of tech meetup groups on Meetup.com. These groups are usually free and open to the public. They’re technology professionals who get together to speak about different topics and network with one another.

As daunting as changing careers may be, just remember that the time you spent in a different field was preparing you for the next one. But, you may have to knock on a number of doors to find the right one.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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