When you come across someone actively switching professions, because they aspire to do something more fulfilling or simply pursue their passion, you are dealing with a ‘career changer’.
The fuel that drives them is their passion for a particular kind of work, something that motivates them every single day.
Career changers come with a varied set of skills and experiences since they are exposed to multiple industries during their career span. Since they are not your regular 9 to 5 folks but people who are driven, super-passionate about their work and extremely inquisitive, career changers often boast of having some of the most interesting professional paths. They are able to identify their most transferable skills and come up with a strategy to apply the same into their next profession in ways that will benefit the organisation too.
As a company, how does a career changer add value and prove to be an asset? We have compiled together everything that you need to know about them, how to hire them, and what exactly you should be looking for when onboarding them. But let’s answer a critical question first…
Should You Hire a Career-Changer?
Most employers have a rigid checklist for the skills and experiences they are looking for in a candidate. But, if you intend to hire a career changer, the checklist may have to be tweaked. While career changers may not fit into the conventional skill sets and may appear risky to hire given their seemingly flighty graph, they do provide distinct advantages to the organisation.
Here are some of the stark benefits of having a career changer on your team:
1. They Are Flexible:
In today’s labour market, an employer is most likely to encounter job seekers who are looking for flexible working options and career opportunities. Career changers aim to remain flexible.
They possess two of the most important qualities that every employer is looking for in an employee i.e. they are open to learning new things and are not afraid of changes. It is a great boon to be able to have someone on the team who can articulate the situation and bend himself/herself accordingly, to extract the best out of the circumstances.
2. They Are Ambitious:
Why do career changers keep switching careers? Lack of opportunity, boredom and burnout in their current fields are some of the factors that motivate them to look out for something else.
In other words, they are always on the lookout for challenges. For employers who can ensure work that is interesting, rewarding and stimulating, hiring a career changer can be immensely beneficial. These are people who will never get complacent in their jobs or will never be content by doing the bare minimum expected out of a job. They are ambitious to a level where they will seek work that satisfies them each day.
3. They Add Tremendous Value:
As mentioned earlier, career changers are people who usually possess vast experience spanning across versatile fields. Their expertise lies in more areas than one, which proves to be an asset for the employer.
In comparison with other professionals who generally have a single-career track record, career changers bring a wide variety of skills from their previous organisations. This is another major reason behind their innovative attitude – a more holistic view of every challenge they face .
4. They Are Learners:
With a career changer, there is never enough to learn. Because of their flexible nature, they are constantly on the lookout to thinking creatively, working collaboratively and most importantly, being open to learning.
It has been proved that learning new skills sharpens one’s brain, so an employer is hiring a smarter employee in a career changer. They will not hesitate to question any process, in order to understand it well, helping them get a deeper perspective into things, making them great learners.
A Few Drawbacks of Hiring Career Changers…
As much as career changers are people whom you can rely on to take up new roles more easily and propel your business forward in the right direction, you will come across some of them who are not really well-equipped to do so and simply want to change careers for the thrill of it.
Here are some of the common drawbacks career changers will exhibit, things you need to keep in mind before hiring one into your team:
1. No Self-Reflection:
A career will never work out for anyone if it is not backed with bulletproof reasoning. Career changers often pursue careers without analysing if their skills are relevant. This can prove to be hazardous as they can end up in a role they don’t really love, only to rush out of it soon.
2. Lack of Research:
A lot of career changers are drawn to industry after looking at some of the perks, and without doing any serious research. Some of them may just look at a position, get excited and apply. They may be so happy with the positives, that they completely ignore the negatives and end up making a decision based on an unrealistic view of the whole situation.
3. ‘Unhappy’ With Current Job
One of the reasons behind a career change could be unhappiness with their current job, but that is not a good enough reason to switch careers. They may think that changing industries or taking up something completely new will provide them with the happiness they are looking for out of a job. But this is not a realistic view, and the ideal solution for them would be just to change companies or take a short break from work.
4. Chooses Money Over Interests
If a career changer looks for money as the deciding factor for taking up a job, he or she is no different from most job seekers out there. They need to feel professionally fulfilled, which can never happen if they let money to be the deciding factor.
5. Second-Guessing Themselves:
While other employees need to give their 100% to their jobs, career changers need to give all that and more, since they are looking at entirely new careers.
Many career changers, at this point in time, start to second-guess themselves and fall out of line because they start questioning their capabilities. They need to be extremely passionate, determined, and believe in their skills, in order to be able to excel in their new careers.
Distrusting their decision and abilities will only instill negativity into their minds which may reflect in their work.
Questions to Ask A Career Changer…
As an employer, one needs to assess the situation thoroughly before finally selecting an employee, and when it comes to hiring a career changer, one has to exercise more caution. Two of the most important qualities that employers look for in a career changer are the willingness to gain the right experience and develop the requisite job skills. In support of the same, the questions to be asked to a career changer will differ from the regular interviews. Here are some of them –
Why Should We Hire You? You Have No Proven Experience in This Role?
A potential employee is smart enough to understand that his or her lack of experience is not really a deal-breaker for the selection process since he/she has already been called for the interview process. But it is important to understand the job seeker’s reasoning behind the decision to switch fields before you even consider taking him/her on board.
The employee is most likely to answer the question by summarising some pertinent accomplishments over the course of his career, and why he makes for a great hire. Try and decipher his answer to this very important question by taking notes of the relevant achievements of his previous jobs.
Does his career history lend itself to the career transition he is willing to make? Does he mention the transferable skills every career changer must possess?
Can You Do This?
This question is intended to reveal the true capabilities of the career changer. What you are looking for in the answer is the level of confidence and honesty with which a career changer answers this question. If he/she lies or exaggerates about his/her skills or experiences, the employee will instantly get caught when he/she is unable to perform on the job, if hired.
Also, you do not want to hire someone who flat out admits of having no relevant experience at all in the field. The right answer to this would be accepting the fact that he or she has not done the exact role in the past, yet emphasising the fact that they have in fact performed roles that called for the same skills needed for this role.
You are looking for someone who can explain the same to you with the help of an example when they had done something similar and draw parallels between the two experiences. All in all, the answer should be convincing enough for you to feel confident to believe in him/her as your future employee, fitting just right into the open position, even though he/she does not hail from the exact same field you are looking for.
Why Are You Changing Careers?
Again, the employee needs to give a solid reason for why he/she is looking for a career change. Look at how confident the person seems with this decision, or try and figure out if his/her reasons seem backed by good research and are valid enough.
If the decision seems out of haste or out of an urge to just explore something different in life, it may not be the right choice for both the job seeker and the employer. Again, if he/she wants to change careers because he/she has explored all possible opportunities in his/her present role, or is looking to pursue his/her passion, and the new role totally excites him/her, he/she is just the right person to go ahead and hire.
He/she should be able to talk about how the current role is a better fit for his/her personal values as well as his/her aspirations in life.
How Can You Be Sure That This Role is For You?
Let’s be honest. As an employer, you are looking for a career changer because he or she possesses some transferable skills that will be great for the new role, is super efficient because his/her expertise lies in different fields, and is super flexible as an employee.
What you are not looking for is someone who applied for the job simply on a whim. After all, you do not want to hire someone, invest time and money by training them, only to find them walking out real quick.
Your candidate should not be making unrealistic promises about how long he or she will stay in the role because honestly, no one can accurately predict that. Instead, they should be able to convince you that the career change is something they have thought long and hard about and have made an effort to test the waters before jumping right into it.
Look out for examples of the research they have done into both the company and the role – from speaking to others with a similar role to shadowing, doing volunteer work, relevant hobbies, and the courses/training they have pursued.
While hiring career changers may be a risk, if done carefully, it could also be one of the best decisions you take for the organisation! Employers should not shy away from taking on employees who are flexible and willing to look beyond rigid career ideals.
These are the times that call for making unconventional choices and harnessing the right talent, wherever and however you find it!