Thinking of a career change?

Careers expert Liz Sebag-Montefiore gave lots of advice for those contemplating a career or sector change at a Return to Work Week event  this week.

Career advice


Are you thinking of changing career or sector? Many of us are these days, often because we feel undervalued and overworked in our own sector or because we need more money.

But changing career path needs a lot of thought. You don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. At a session at Return to Work Week, careers expert Liz Sebag-Montefiore, co-founder and director of 10Eighty, said it is important to reflect deeply on what you want to do, what your personal and careers values are  versus what your strengths and skills are. She advised using the intelligent career theory, which posits three “ways of knowing”: knowing-why, knowing-how, and knowing-whom.

liz sebag montefioreYou should ask yourself, for instance, is a career change right for me and is it right now? How do you want to work? Where do I want to work – close to home; do I want to commute? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you know what is non-negotiable for you and what is a ‘nice to have’. This can help you decide if a career change is right for you or if, for instance, you would be better off returning to your old career and seeing if you can change your job in ways that suit you better or ask for parental leave coaching to support your return and rebuild your confidence. The exercise can also help if you have got different options on offer.

Liz spoke about the barriers to career change, including confidence and imposter syndrome, saying that the self-confidence gremlin can be shrunk and moved to the back of your mind if you focus on what you can do and have done.

She said employers are much more amenable to career transfer these days so people should not be put off if they don’t have experience in a particular sector.  Nevertheless, she said it is important to keep networking, for instance, via LinkedIn, while you are on a career break and build relationships for the long term. LinkedIn can be used to build your knowledge about a new sector and to understand if it is right for you through joining professional groups, commenting on posts to build your visibility and attending events, whether virtual or not. It is also worth looking at your LI contact’s contacts as they may be useful sources of information and help. Youtube is also a good source of information on different careers as are sector-specific podcasts. There is a lot of free content available if you look, said Liz, and knowing more about the sector shows your interest and commitment.

Talking to people who work in that sector is an important way of getting the inside track and you can also ask for work experience to see if it aligns with your career values. Liz advised using any contacts that can help you at a strategic level and recommended scoring your existing contacts from 1-3 in terms of how well you know them, whether you have added valued to them and can therefore ask for a return favour and whether they would respond to a request for help. You can then start working your way down from the 3s to the 1s.

Liz covered a range of other issues, from different types of CV layout, including skills-based and chronological CVs, negotiating applicant tracking systems [ATS] with their emphasis on keywords and algorithms to interview confidence and using action words and giving different examples for each job role you have done on your CV.

On ATS, she said that it’s important to follow the job description and customise key words, for example, for Sales Tech Roles, an ATS might be searching for keyword acronyms like SaaS, UCAAS or ERP. “Make sure you include these in your CV, with the correct grammar. Ensure modern terminology, for instnace, you may have past experience as a Marketing Specialist but the ATS is searching for a Digital Marketing Specialist.”

Other advice included researching the company and culture and including additional keywords relevant to the company such as values, agile working, authenticity, etc. She said to submit your CV in a Word or Google doc format if possible as some ATS can’t parse PDF documents. Another tip is to input the job description and your CV into ChatGPT and tell the AI to revise your CV to be more ATS-friendly as per the included job description. Liz recommends to help build ATS-friendly, keyword-rich CVs.

Other advice included:

– adding keywords to your LI summary so it is picked up for LI jobs;

– thinking long term about what you might need to get to where you want to be;

– writing a career plan – you are more likely to achieve it if you write it down, although it doesn’t mean it is set in stone plus you can think strategically about who can help you achieve it.

There was also advice on Thursday from Emma Alkirwi from CV Guru on how to tailor your CV if you are thinking of a career change.


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