How to Use Existing Experience to Change Fields



Executive Search Specialist and Career Coach at the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition, June 17-22, in Orlando, Fla.

For people looking to make a career change, how can you use existing experience to transition into a different field?

This continues to be a tough environment for those wanting to use their skills in a different field or setting. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Create a skills-based résumé that details all relevant and transferable skills. Make sure the résumé has an opening paragraph that delivers your “value proposition.” This section should connect everything you’ve done that’s relevant into a cogent argument for your suitability for the role. Don’t ever expect the reader to do that - the reader isn’t equipped to do that and won’t have or take the time.  

Once you have a résumé that articulates your suitability for the new role, network with people who can open doors, make introductions, or provide guidance and direction. Let your professional contacts know what you’re trying to do and why you think you’d be good in the new role. Don’t ask anyone to find you a job; ask them for their suggestions and have them relate some of their relevant personal experiences. All the while, gather information so that your efforts will be more targeted, efficient and effective. Learn everything you can about the new field so that you can demonstrate in conversations your appreciation for not only the industry or business sector, but also the issues and concerns in that field. Informational interviews are great, if you can get them.  

When you get a job interview, don’t just sell yourself; sell the benefits of your fresh perspective, your motivation, and the passion that you’ll bring to the new role and environment. Be honest about experience gaps, while you stress your openness to learn and a strong desire for professional growth. If you truly know yourself and know that you’ll be a valued contributor in the new role, there’s likely to be a hiring manager who will be convinced. 

What do you most hope attendees will take away from the Career Connection at this year’s Conference?

I hope attendees will feel empowered after they leave the Career Connection. I expect they will have made important new connections, gathered practical information and learned things they didn’t know. Make no mistake about it, there are great opportunities out there in the marketplace in the area of fraud prevention and detection. This field has a bright future ahead with an ever-expanding need for talent. Demographics alone are creating new opportunities and advantages for early and mid-career professionals.

I hope that sense of empowerment comes with a commitment to avoid passivity, resting on one’s laurels and the rejection of a “good enough for now” attitude. At the end of the day, it is up to each individual to chart his/her career course. I know they’ll leave the Career Connection with new ideas, tactics and strategies for charting that course.

Speak with Lavinder and other career coaches at this year’s ACFE Annual Fraud Conference, June 17-22, 2012, in Orlando, FL.