People put a lot of thought into changing careers. After all, it is one of the more important decisions one can make. We have to consider our families, our living and financial situations, our competitive advantage in the new field, etc. Making a career change typically means starting with a blank canvas; while you have the freedom to paint that canvas any which way you wish, you have to invest time, energy, make sacrifices and prove yourself as a credible professional in your new field. You have to be competitive, and motivated, and sustain the drive that is necessary to be successful. After you convince yourself that changing careers is the right thing to do, you will have to convince your potential employers to give you the job you are seeking.
To do so, you have to do your research. Demonstrate to your employer that you have an extensive knowledge of the industry, even if you don’t have the accompanying experience. Before you begin your new career, make sure that you understand what professional paths are available for you, and determine what your ultimate goal is. This will help you form the career objective for your resume. Additional, make sure to do your research on the company you are interested in, as well as their competition (if you are interested in non-profit organizations, make sure to brush up on other organizations with similar missions); if invited for an interview, you will want to appear very knowledgeable not only about their company, but about the industry as a whole. You will have to convince your potential employer that you the best person for the job, better than the candidates with experience; to do that, you have to showcase not only your enthusiasm for the opportunity, but your eagerness to learn and your knowledge about the field.
Transferable skills, those skills that can be utilized in numerous fields, are also a key to a successful career change. Consider your qualifications to date. What experience have you acquired that can be transferred across industries? Transferable skills include verbal and written communication, people management, customer relations, organization and project management, development of new processes, generation of new ideas or concepts, etc. Such skills can be adapted to all organizations, and you should utilize them to showcase your qualifications for the job you are seeking. For example, if you would like to ditch the 9-to-5 desk job for a hectic, unpredictable life of a high school teacher, let your potential employer know that your previous experience in leading by motivation makes you a perfect candidate for the job (even if that marketing project you managed has nothing to do with teaching English composition). Making a list of all your professional experiences and the qualifications needed for the job you are seeking will help you in determining which skills are transferable to your new career. Once you define your transferable skills, use a functional resume to assure most (if not all) of the qualifications needed for the new job are met in your resume.
In addition to your resume, use your cover letter or email to let your potential employer know why you are changing careers, and that your new interest is not a passing one. Make sure that your resume reflects your newfound interest in a genuine and professional manner, and you are sure to have a successful career change.