Ben Goodson, recruitment sales manager for ENDSjobsearch, explains how to stand out when moving from another industry
Question: In my early career I qualified as a behavioural psychologist and spent two years working in a clinical environment. I also have 10 years’ experience in the property market and ran my own bar for several years. I recently decided on a career change into the environment sector but have struggled to secure interviews. How can I best communicate my transferable skills to stand out amongst other applicants?
The environment industry is very competitive and it’s even more challenging when you’re looking to move from another sector. Every role you apply for is likely to have multiple other candidates with the right level of expertise also applying, so you need to work extra hard to make it to the top of that pile.
Firstly, be realistic about your career aspirations and be sure about why you want to move into this sector. If you don’t already have relevant qualifications and work experience you may need to acquire these in order to make yourself more employable. Consider how your transferable skills and background have synergy with the roles you are applying for. How do you stack up against the competition? You need to address these in both your CV and cover letter.
Make sure you create an impactful CV that is tailored for each role, keeping it to less than two pages. Prominently highlight your most relevant experience and transferable skills first. Do this by including facts, figures, outcomes and evidence that relate to the role. Outline your employment history without any unexplained gaps, so as not to raise unnecessary questions from the employer, but keep any experience that is not directly relevant to the role to a brief bullet point.
Use your cover letter to get the employer’s attention. Employers need to be convinced in the first 10-20 seconds of reading your application that you are committed to a career in the environment sector - how can you give them this confidence? Specify what you are doing to commit yourself to the sector - for example, are you working towards a relevant qualification? Give them a taste of what you can offer them. Use assertive language such as “I can”, “I will” and “I have” rather than “I think” or “I believe”.
Lastly embrace feedback - ask for feedback on any rejected applications and use it as a tool to make yourself more marketable in future.