Posted On 19th August 2012

There are jobs available to today’s school leavers which hadn’t even been dreamt up when I left school. Social Media Marketing Assistant is an evident example and professional lobbying was in its early days. Others, among them those associated with the printed word, are looking at the sunset or, with our manufacturing base focusing increasingly on high end products, are becoming niche.

If you find yourself out of work and unable to get back into your previous field, it is probably not that your former trade or profession has disappeared. Far more likely the case is that it’s become more competitive or, in the current downturn, there is less demand for what you do. This, of course, does not help you one jot if you’re trying to work out what to do to make ends meet.

We have written a lot about how to present transferrable skills. However, your future line of work may not actually lie in exploiting your core professional skills, albeit differently, but in looking more broadly at what you have to offer. In this, I’m accepting that completely retraining may not be viable, either in terms of time or of money. When you boil it all down, is there something different that you could do and maybe which you hadn’t thought of before?

When people are considering their next move, I frequently find that they discount things that they have done as a volunteer or otherwise offered without pay. Somehow they think that it lacks professional validity. However, if this has given you particular experience and skills, why would you not exploit these?

Looking at more traditional lines of work, if you’ve ever been the secretary on a committee you will have skills in minute taking, arranging a diary and, depending on the group, organising events. Or when it comes to newer skills, perhaps you have built websites for community groups and even promoted these groups through social media. There is, after all, no good reason why these new media jobs have to be the domain of the under 25s just because they’re young.

So, don’t be fobbed off with being told that you need to “dumb down” your CV in order to get work (which sadly, people have told me happens as Job Centre staff seek to match people to whatever job is available). Instead think what you could do to adapt your CV to make it match a different line of work but one which you might be interested in and for which you already have marketable skills. Plan how you will make that move, including getting additional work experience if relevant.

Remember that you will then have to package this up in a way that is credible to recruiters and employers. Never forget that you are asking them to put their faith in your ability to do a particular job. It is not for them to work out how you might meet their requirements, but for you to tell them how. Make sure your messages and the evidence is clear.

Also, be prepared to sell yourself more aggressively than you might be used to doing. Your last job title and work experience may no longer speak for themselves. In fact, there is a risk they could get in the way – but the answer is to ensure that your motivation to move into a new line of work is clear. No-one will want to think that they might be providing you with a stop gap until you can get back into your former, maybe more lucrative profession.

Moving into the unknown is possible, even without years of retraining. However, to succeed you have to get someone to share your vision and belief if they are to make that leap of faith with you.

Heidi Nicholson

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