Submitted by TylerDerden on
About five years ago I made a career change from Chiropractic to the corporate world. I kind of fit into that technically savvy but not IT role. My major responsibilities involve reporting and analysis with our company data warehouse and MS Access. I would like to test the job market to see what opportunities are out there. However, I dread dealing with my career change. It seems difficult for people to comprehend.
Some questions I have are:
1. Am I making too big a deal of this since I have been in my new career for years now?
2. How best to address this on my resume?
a. Should I list all the positions I have had in both careers?
3. How best to address this in an interview?
Thank you in advance for your comments.
Here is my $.02 worth:
1. To be blunt, yes you are making too much of it. Career changes are becoming more and more common in modern business, especially in America. Also, the fact that you have been in your new career for several years ties in well with the fact that most prospective employers care more about recent experience than past. It's a case of "what have you done for me lately."
2. Explain it by telling the truth. If you found chiropractic unfulfilling and your new career to be what you feel good about doing, just say so. For any employer that you are likely to want to actually work for, that should be enough.
2a. Yes, for two reasons. One, if you think a career change is a turn off to employers, try a long and unaccounted for gap of time on your resume. That is the kiss of death. Second, it is amazing what might look good to some people. A specific example is the time I hired somone fresh out the Army as a programmer despite the fact he had never written a single program for hire in his life. His technical education was adequate but he had no working experience. It was his time in combat logistics that caught my eye. Programming (when done right) is in part an exercise in efficient problem solving and logistics is a matter of efficient problem solving. Combat logistics adds the pressure of people getting killed if you are not both creative and knowledgeable. I focused on problem solving skills during his interviews, and he may very well have been the best hire I ever made. He was an outstanding applications programmer then, and is now an outstanding senior software engineer at a very well known software company.
3. Address it only if it brought up, and like I said before, address it by telling the truth. If you were successful in chiropractic, say so then segue in to how it wasn't the career you wanted to pursue so you took the risk and made a change. Make sure you mention how you now enjoy your new career choice. That should be enough for most people. If not, then react to any follow up questions they may have in that same vein. If they seem to really harp on it, perhaps this is not a place you want to work for anyway.
Remember, as much as the job interview is a process for an employer to find a good employee, it is also a process for an employee to find an employer. If they have issues with your career change for you then it's probably not a good fit for you anyway. If that's the case and you don't NEED to take the job then walk away. You have already shown that type of courage and savvy once. Don't be afraid to do it again.
Thank you Paul
Thank you for your thorough response. I usually get the standard, “don’t worry about it, if it’s meant to be …” answer. Your detailed response helps a lot and I will follow you’re advise on this topic.
It will be a couple of months before I start looking so don’t be surprised if you see another post looking for advise on interviewing.
The first step was psychologically making peace with this situation. Now I can be more pragmatic in my approach.
Thank you again.
I agree with Paul. When I am going through resumes, I actually spend more time on the ones with career changes like yours. I entertain myself by thinking of all the different aspects this person may bring to the job with this alternate career path. When I get 10 cookie cutter resumes, someone who has had different experiences gets a second look from me. Use it to your advantage! What looks at life did your chiropractic career give you that other IT nerds haven't had?!! I bet you could fill a book. Those experiences translate into new ways of looking at problems that are very valuable.
Stop fighting with yourself. :wink:
What Paul said is as close to perfect a post as I've seen lately. While I don't think that most managers do what Dan does (spend more time on career-changers' resumes), I think it's not as big an issue as you think.
Do what you love. The resume and interviewing are only tactics, not life missions. Don't let your day to day end up taking you into a life you wouldn't want to live.