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In changing careers you may have to look at where you could get a job. Even more so than non-career change jobs seekers, you'll need to convince employers that you:

  • are serious and have researched your careers ideas properly
  • have thought about ramifications living lower salary
  • have gone one step further and planned finances for foreseeable future to take account reduced earnings

Designing an effective cover letter and CV

Before you go out to the external job market, you may need to give some thought to what going to say about yourself and what going say employers who may be sceptical about your seriousness and commitment to a new career. The place to do this is in your CV and cover letter. 

Cover letters

Your cover letter is important because it is the first thing an company sees. Therefore, it is an ideal place to tell employers that you have given your career change serious thought. You can add something like:

My ambition is to move into PR and to make complete change of career. My reasons are as follows:

 - My communication skills would be put to better use, and that would be beneficial both to myself and any future employer

 - I have taken the courses of study as detailed in my CV and feel this now qualifies me to apply for this position

I believe I could be highly successful in PR and enjoy much better prospects. I realise that I would have to start at a lower level and that there would be financial implications in short term. Fortunately my partner is in a position to work additional hours and in this way we can make up the shortfall.

Make sure that you are:

  • clear and concise
  • positive
  • identify your transferable skills
  • mention something to show your commitment to the idea e.g. further study
  • show have thought through e.g. financial implications

CVs

The same message about changing careers have got to come across in your CV. You need to convey not only the fact that you are planning a career change but that your skills relevant to new career.

  • Focus on your ambition - use the personal section at the top to show where you want to go. 
  • Keep it relevant - focus on employment history which is relevant to the career you are looking for. 
  • Talk about your transferable skills, relevant work experience and training. 

The Invisible Jobs Market

Most vacancies aren’t filled as a result advertising, and instead employers use range recruitment methods which collectively make up what is known as the "invisible market". The invisible market includes:

  • recruitment agencies - employers recruit staff by asking agencies to search their files for suitable candidates
  • files of previous applicants - employers look back through their files previous applicants including people who have sent unsolicited CVs
  • LinkedIn - suitable candidates might be on LinkedIn. 

Tackling the invisible market is a better way to get your foot on the ladder, as there is less competition, however it does take time and effort and we'll dedicate the rest of this blog to ways in which you can access the invisible jobs market. 

Systematic cold calling

Phoning up selected employers to see if they have anything suitable for you is one easy proactive method accessing invisible jobs market. You'll need to:

  1. Identify the right organisations - those that are likely to have jobs in your area.
  2. Speak to right person - this means getting hold of a decision maker
  3. Keep the call brief - explain quickly who you are, where you’re coming from and what you are seeking to achieve. Ask if there is any thing suitable at moment. If yes, ask them what to do next, if no, thank them in way enables you to ring them another time. 
  4. Keep record of your calls. This includes the name of the person you spoke to, date and anything interesting you picked up along the way.
  5. Work out a call cycle of who you are going to call frequently and who less often.
  6. Score your calls between 0 and 5. 5s are employers who are worth keeping in touch with regularly, whilst 0s are employers who gave you hard time. Identify organisations that are worth ringing every 3 months or so against these may warrant calls only occasionally.

If you keep doing this you'll get a snapshot of what the companies you are looking at are doing and eventually a detailed picture of your target organisations. Over time you'll hopefully have to make fewer, more targeted calls, and sooner or later start connect with good opportunities.

Mailshots

Another way to access the invisible jobs market is to send copy your CV as mailshot to selected employers to see what opportunities they have. Here’s the way go about it:

  1. Identify the right organisations - those that are likely to have jobs in your area.
  2. Phone first - to find out the name of the person who needs to be sent the mailshot.
  3. Compose a cover letter. 
  4. Mark it as ‘confidential’ - best way ensure right person opens it.

The aim of a mailshot is to you connect with the right opportunity, or if one is not available, to get your CV filed in a place where it will be revisited when an opportunity comes up next. 

Agencies

Getting your name on the books of the right agencies is another excellent way to access the invisible market. Good agencies can use their know-how and contacts to help you access the right opportunities. Here's a few things you need to know:

  1. Pick the right ones - those that have opportunities in your field.
  2. Make sure they understand you. Tell them you are seeking to make a career change and not just jobs in your current career.
  3. Keep in contact - ring chosen agencies from time to time, especially when you have not heard from them. Not only will you remind them you are still there, but you might also pick up some interesting feedback on why you are having  no luck finding the right opening for you. Is it that what you are looking for is unrealistic or is the  agency not very good?

Professional networking

By far best way accessing career-change opportunities is through networking and there are numerous ways to go about this. Networking can help you:

  • Access the invisible jobs market perhaps via jobs that havn't been advertised yet.
  • Contacts can vouch for you and let people know that you are good employee.
  • You can help friends/colleagues out and they'll also help you out.

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