“My nontraditional experience is scaring off employers.”
I often hear this issue surface when job seekers are pivoting their career in a new direction. It typically arises after they’ve started applying for jobs online, and are not landing interviews.
Let’s break this problem down further:
Why does this happen?
When filling a position, recruiters sift through applications until they find the closest match - someone who has done the same job in the past, usually in the same industry. If your recent work history is not relevant to the job post, you may be overlooked - even with a strong resume that demonstrates your transferable experiences and valuable skills. The fact that your previous job title is not a match could move your resume to the trash file.
To take this one step further, recruiters review large amounts of resumes at a given time. Since time is a limited resource, most recruiters will quickly scan your resume for a few seconds before deciding if your background and skills are a good fit for the role. The applicant that looks like the closest match in the pile wins - period. An organized resume can often win over a resume jam-packed with information outlining your transferable skills. Why? Recruiters don’t read a resume word for word. They need you to make the connection between your past experiences and this role. Additionally, recruiters need you to be concise and clear in your presentation of this information. Otherwise, you lose.
What can you do about it?
To overcome this problem, most job seekers will turn their attention back to their resume. They’ll rewrite the resume or write multiple versions of it. Some job seekers will even invest hundreds of dollars to hire a professional to write their resume for them. During the course of the job search, they will become exhausted from re-framing their experiences over and over again to try to stand out.
And guess what - they still go unnoticed.
The root cause of why employers are deterred by your nontraditional experience doesn’t always have to do with your resume, though. Employers may actually want or need to hire someone to help them think differently. In fact, many hiring managers are looking for applicants who are adaptable and innovative in today’s job market.
Typically, the problem stems from how job seekers are sourcing jobs. By applying online, you are adding yourself to a large, competitive pile of applicants, and you are likely to be compared against others with traditional experience.
If you want to break into a new career with a nontraditional background, you’ll need to practice nontraditional job hunting methods.
What are a few nontraditional job hunting tips?
Here are two places you can start:
- Master your story to ensure you feel confident speaking about this career change. Practice sharing your story with friends and family - including how you see it playing out in your career. Talk about why you decided to go back to school to pursue a new degree.
- Source jobs through networking. People who know you and your work ethic can help you stand out. You are no longer one resume in a giant stack of others. You are a person, and people hire people they like. There are ways to quickly and confidently build your network in new industries.
When you get these two things right, you will stand out. You will learn about jobs that are not yet advertised (i.e. hidden jobs), and generate interviews consistently without applying online – oftentimes two and three at a time.
Need more help with this strategy? Check out the Fast Start Formula training library, which walks you through a step-by-step system to generate these results in your job search. Or, connect with me, Jen Morris, founder of the Fast Start Formula, to get guidance on your specific career move. We are in this together!