By Angela Copeland
If you’ve ever switched jobs, you know it can be hard – really hard. I’m not talking about getting the same job at a new company. Switching from one type of job to another can feel impossible.
Have you ever been in a job interview and started to wonder if the hiring manager was simply checking off boxes? This can be tough when you don’t perfectly fit into a box, but you know you’d do a great job.
If you’ve ever thought this was happening, you’d likely be right. I’ve often wondered why it is that hiring managers use such a basic way to measure a candidate’s abilities. They simply look to see if a candidate has done a particular task before – not how skilled they are at it.
The problem is, if we’re being honest, there aren’t many great ways to measure candidates. Measuring potential candidate success is tricky and time consuming.
So, many hiring mangers do the only thing that makes sense. They look for someone who (on paper) looks like someone else. They look for someone with the same background as those who have worked well in the past. They look for what typically works.
This is a similar method that car insurance companies use when they sell you car insurance. They look at how likely “you” are to get into an accident. But, they don’t know you. So, they look at how likely someone like you is to get into an accident. Insurance companies look at factors including age, gender, marital status, and car make and model (among other things).
Insurance companies are trying to reduce their risk overall. They want to insure people who have the lowest average risk of failure.
That’s the same thing many corporations are trying to do when they hire. They’re trying to minimize their likelihood of failure. On average, they want new hires to do well.
So, what can you do if you don’t fit into the box? What can you do when you know you’d be good at a job, but you don’t meet the typical profile of someone in the job? There are multiple routes to consider. Some people opt to go back to school for an additional degree, or to get a certification of some kind.
But, if you know the education is not necessary, you may want to consider another route. Look for opportunities to get involved in a small way in the new field you’re interested in. You might take on an extra project at work, or volunteer for this type of work at a non-profit in your community. Network with those in the field you’re interested in.
And, look for an open minded hiring manager. They’re out there. It takes a bit longer to find them. The more jobs you interview for, the more likely you are to find someone who will give you a chance, despite your non-traditional background.
Angela Copeland, a career influencer and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.