How to Explain a Career Shift During a Job Interview

Not everyone stays on the same path their entire career. Some people like to swerve left or veer right now and then. That’s a good thing if your career shift enhances your happiness. However, it might be a bit concerning to a hiring manager who sees it as an inability to stick with something long-term.

explain career shift

It’s important you’re prepared to explain your career shift confidently during a job interview. Here are some tips to help ensure that a positive step in your life doesn’t get misconstrued as something negative. 

Don’t gloss over it

If you’re worried your interviewer might not be amenable to your career shift, it may be tempting to skirt around the subject. Do not give in to that impulse. It will make it seem like you have something to hide, or that you regret your decision. Your goal is to make the opposite impression. Let the interviewer know how proud you are to have made a switch to something new and rewarding. Emphasize what a positive impact it’s had on your life and your morale. And be sure to let her know how much courage, self-assurance, and adventurous spirit it took to make the change—these are leadership qualities it’s important to emphasize.

Explain your reasoning

It may be difficult for some people to understand how you could go from being an attorney to a music teacher or from a financial advisor to an advertising copywriter. Don’t let them assume or guess. Explain it to them. Make sure your interviewer knows you didn’t change careers because you couldn’t handle the pressure or because you were a failure at your job. You did it because you have a passion you wanted to pursue. Your enthusiasm about your new career path—the one you’re looking to be hired into—will ease any worries the hiring manager might have had about you not being all in.

Emphasize your skills and education

When you’re trying to convince someone to hire you, one of the most important things you can do is sell yourself in concrete terms. If you already have experience in your newly chosen career, focus on that.  If your previous job has transferrable skills, point that out. If you’ve gone back to school, taken classes, or heavily researched your new career choice at length, let it be known you have substantial knowledge about the occupation you switched to. After all, just because you’ve switched directions doesn’t mean all the miles you put behind you up to that point are expendable. Every step you’ve made has value and can be applied in some way to your next position.

Flip the script

Most people are afraid of change. Your career switch clearly proves you’re not. Since an inability to change is usually considered to be a debilitating quality, use your fortitude to your advantage. Change is often considered synonymous with growth. Use the fact that you’re willing to try new things and explore different opportunities to show your interviewer you’re exactly the type of employee she’s looking for.

By viewing your career change as an attribute rather than a detriment, you can securely navigate your interview without unnecessary roadblocks. If you have confidence in your choice, then you can make your interviewer have confidence in you.

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