Have you ever wished for a proven, experience-based roadmap to career search success? Whether you’re new to the job market or new to a particular job industry, the career search process can be intimidating, daunting, and overwhelming. We often attempt to bypass job search anxiety by diving deep into job boards, investing in expensive new interview outfits, or practicing elevator pitches in front of the mirror, but despite our best attempts to predict the outcomes of career search efforts, experience always proves to be the best teacher.
That’s why Zoetic Resume and Writing Services is pleased to provide you with first-hand experiences and insider knowledge from career professionals in a variety of job industries. Zoetic’s Insider Knowledge for Career Search Success blog series is designed to bring resources and career search success tips to the comfort of your own living room. Join in as we discover the key components and pivotal strategies for a variety of career search success stories, including internships and career changes. Together we’ll capitalize on the unique opportunity to hear from those who’ve achieved career search success and generously allow us to gain insight from their experiences.
Career Search Success: A Career Changer’s Perspective
First up in our career search success blog series, we meet with Wende. Wende’s professional and personal life events triggered a series of decisions that landed her in a completely different career industry – and she’s not alone. Recent polls show 41% of Americans hope to change careers during their next job move. Changing careers can be intimidating and require a few extra steps when updating your resume, but, as with Wende’s experience, the payoff is worth the effort. Follow along as we hear about the moment Wende realized it was time to change jobs and the tools, tips, and strategies that helped her get there.
Hi Wende, thank you for meeting with me. Let me start with some basic background questions. What was your previous line of work and how many years of experience did you hold?
I had 15 years of experience as Carrier Account Coordinator for a worldwide logistics and transport company.
What is your current occupational specialty/line of work?
I’m the Business Development Manager for Job Impulse Grand Rapids.
How many years have you been in your current career industry?
I’ve been in my current role for 3 months, but have experience (from over 18 years ago) recruiting for pharmacists from a variety of backgrounds, including retail and hospital.
What educational achievements or opportunities helped you obtain career search success by landing you a job in your current career industry?
I graduated from Illinois State University and was a member of the communication honor society, Lambda Pi Eta. I was also a journalist for the Daily Vidette and was involved in as many activities and events as possible, especially events that brought people together for a greater cause.
While I can’t say these specific groups made a direct difference in my recent hiring, I’m certain meeting other people and working toward a greater cause did. Getting involved as a student is a form of networking; it introduces you to more people, gives you more connections, and broadens your opportunities and horizons by simply speaking with people outside of your normal network. Often you will find everyone has something in common, despite what platform you are representing. Common ground is the foundation of a positive working relationship.
Career Search Success: The Defining Moment of Change
What prompted you to change careers?
I experienced several life-changing events after the pandemic that prompted me to make this decision. First, I went through a difficult divorce and became a single mom. My children were young and I had to work full-time. I was trying to teach my son from home and take care of my infant daughter, who needed constant feeding, diaper changes, and (as any parent knows) a plethora of things that come with having an infant. I began to notice a lot of changes at work in regard to commission, rules, and basic day-to-day tasks; the changes seemed a bit excessive and there seemed to be no basis for them. When I asked my leaders about the changes, I was given what seemed to be “corporate responses,” which left little room for discovery and understanding and consequently, communicated to me that my spoken concerns would do little to relieve the negative impact of the changes I was subjected to.
While juggling all of this, I received a promotion that I thought might make things easier and would have been perfect prior to all the world changes. Unfortunately, the promotion’s benefits were impossible to realize due to my circumstances. I was staying up all night working after putting my kids to sleep and I soon developed anxiety. Nothing I did gave me any sense of accomplishment and it was taking a major toll on my confidence. That’s when I had to swallow my pride and realize that I cannot live or work the way I used to and must adapt to life’s changes and determine my priorities – my kids or my job.
I chose what was best for my kids. After considerable reflection, I realized I needed to make a career change altogether and find something in a different industry. I sought out as many mentors and constituents as I could for advice; after learning about my long-term goals and personal motivation, almost everyone suggested I get back into recruiting or staffing.
What barriers did you encounter when attempting to change careers?
I had experience in the industry I wished to move to, but my prior experience was outdated and specific to one area of the field. A lot had changed since I’d left the industry.
Did you need to make any significant compromises when accepting a job in a new career industry?
I had to make a major pay cut. I knew the sooner I moved to an industry that would ultimately be better for me as a whole, the sooner I would get myself back to where I needed to be financially.
Career Search Success: Goals, Strategies, and Advice
Can you describe one or two of your 5-year career goals? What motivated you to set these goals and what do you hope to achieve by reaching these goals?
I am working hard to get my income back to where it was prior to my career move and all the changes in the economy. There are multiple avenues I’m navigating to help me get there; I am taking advantage of everything I can to take me to the next level. Success only comes with hard work and finding ways to separate yourself from everyone else. People want to know the real, unique YOU and I work to showcase my unique talents and skills every day.
What are some of the best questions you’ve been asked by potential employers while being interviewed?
I like when interviewers provide an example scenario or work situation to see how you respond. You never know how employers want you to respond, so the best strategy is to be honest and be yourself. If you align with what they need and like, they’ll hire you, and if not, they’ll find someone else. These types of interview practice scenarios are a great way to ensure you’re finding the right fit for your personality and skills.
How did you translate previous work experience into marketable metrics that appealed to employers in your new career industry?
I think it’s extremely important to always find common ground. This is essential to everything in life – find a common ground. Learn what is important to the company or person you want to work for and how your experiences can relate to their priorities. Once I found common ground with my potential employers, I emphasized the importance of what I did in the past and how it was relevant to our shared goals.
What tools did you use to achieve career search success? (i.e., resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, digital portfolio, etc.)
I sought the advice of my family, friends, and mentors to give me some feedback on what they thought I should do; I was on a roller coaster and didn’t have enough confidence at the time to trust my own opinion. Everyone told me to try something new and they usually suggested getting back into staffing. I worked with Becky at Zoetic Resume and Writing Services to have my resume updated; she taught me how to tailor my resume and all information to specific positions. I was fortunate enough to have a recruiter reach out to me based on my resume.
How has networking (both in-person and digitally) affected your career search success?
Networking is absolutely everything, especially in sales. Networking is also important for job roles that often have a hiring gatekeeper or someone that gatekeeps the results of your job search efforts.
What advice, tips, or tricks do you have for current job-seekers?
Keep an open mind, focus on the goal, and do not get discouraged or let anything get in your way. Nothing in the job market is personal; realize most people do not want any more work emails or distractions during the day because they are already bombarded with enough. The best way to stand out is to find common ground and communicate how you can make an impact. Work with other people’s schedules, be uncomfortable, and show people who you are whether it is over the phone, at a networking event, when meeting new people, or when changing industries.
We all are human and we all feel awkward; I have found one of the best ways to relate to people is by giving them an example of how you are human. For example, I made a sales call to a prospective client and pulled into their facility not knowing that they had security gates. I was already nervous and didn’t know what to do, so I pulled up to the window only to find it had been blacked out. I heard a voice from an intercom about 15 feet away, but I couldn’t get to it unless I backed up. Unfortunately, when I looked back, I saw a full truck and trailer right behind me; the driver was tossing popcorn in his mouth like it was a movie. I ended up giving him quite the show as I slowly executed an Austin Powers-like 3-point turn to get to the intercom. Once there, I realized I needed to put my car in park and get out to hear and speak with the attendant. Needless to say, I eventually made it through the gate and approached the guard desk. They informed me an appointment is required to meet with decision-makers, but because they thought I was so funny and they were so impressed by my determination to speak with someone all while humiliating myself, they made sure to give my contact information to their leaders and promised they would follow up. Sometimes just being human is what people need to see.
Is a career change on your professional horizon? Partner with Zoetic Resume and Writing Services to receive career-specific insight into transferable skills, metrics, and achievements. Together we’ll navigate the complexities of communicating career changes on your resume and cover letter while strategically attracting the attention of your ideal employers. Connect with me here for more information and to learn how my resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn packages can help you achieve career search success.