May 8, 2014
Research says that that people hold an average of 7-15 jobs during their lives. Many of those people not only change jobs, they change careers. A survey conducted by Simply Hired in the fall of 2013 showed that 43 percent of respondents were seeking to change professions. Older workers, who might be overlooked by recruiters as candidates for lower-level positions, are the group most likely to seek a career change. More than half (55 percent) of those between 40 and 49 said they wanted to change careers.
Making the leap to another career is a tough decision for many people. They may have to consider a different schedule, lower pay or a different pay structure and more or less travel, among other factors. And often the biggest hurdle is getting hired in a new field in which they have little or no experience.
Recruiters often make assumptions about career changers. They won’t have enough experience with technology. They won’t want lower pay. They won’t want to work for a younger manager. And so on. Those assumptions can keep recruiters from finding great employees. Here are four reasons you should consider career-changers:
1. Work Ethic
Compared to a recent college grad, a career changer has a proven work ethic. Let’s face it: they have been showing up to a job they didn’t necessarily like every day for years on end. They know how to put in the hours. If they became fairly advanced in their previous field, they know what it means to pay their dues. That means they will show up for you, too.
Someone who has decided to change careers has likely given a lot of thought to what they’re passionate about. Whether that’s a passion for the new field itself or changing to a career that supports the lifestyle they desire (more travel, summers off, etc.), they are motivated to make themselves happy. Happy people who are passionate about both what they do and the lifestyle they lead have a positive effect on everyone around them. Passion and enthusiasm are infectious, and that’s surely good for morale, if not the bottom line.
Taking a leap into the unknown of a new career means being willing to learn the ropes and ask a lot of questions. Career changers are less likely to be stuck in old ways of how things were done at their previous job. Instead of making assumptions, the career changer will adapt and learn as they go. People who are willing to say, “I don’t know, can you please tell me?” can be powerful assets to your organization. Asking questions fosters dialogue, which helps break the monotony of every day routine, and engages others in their own work by having them articulate goals and processes.
Innovation requires diverse perspectives. The ability to question the status quo, when combined with years of experience in another field, can inform new processes and products, and enhance efficiency. One study found that a team consisting of a combination of inherent (traits that are innate or inherited) and acquired (from past experience) diversity drives innovation in organizations. Companies with both inherited and acquired diversity are 70 percent more likely to capture a new market and 45 percent more likely to improve market share. Adding employees with skills acquired from other fields can bring fresh perspective that will help drive your company’s success.
When interviewing a career-change seeker, probe the four areas just mentioned.
- Work ethic: Ask them about their commitment to previous jobs.
- Passion: Discover the reasons they’re seeking career change. Did they pursue training or education in the new field? Does the reason they’re seeking the change feel like it comes from the heart, or are they just seeking money or an easy way out?
- Humility: Look for examples of how they approach problem-solving in new situations. Are they willing to “know what they don’t know” and seek out help?
- Diversity: Will they be comfortable in situations with people who have a lot more experience in a given field? Ask for examples of situations where they had to speak up to a superior or how they approach coming to agreement in situations that have many perspectives.
Every organization can use another passionate, humble employee with a strong work ethic and a fresh perspective. They might just not have the experience you expect, so don’t overlook those who are seeking a change.
Over the next several months we’ll be sharing best learnings and best practices on how to adapt and thrive in this new era of changing careers.
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