Igor, Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant in Mary Shelley’s book, would be the first to say that there are times when it seems like you need to make a career switch. Even if the local townspeople aren’t coming after your boss with torches and pitchforks, you might have your own reasons to consider a career switch.
You’re more likely to have found that the internship before your senior year wasn’t as fun as you thought it would be, or that the summer jobs you used to build your resume aren’t making you happy. Now you’re ready to graduate and head into the real world with a B.S. in biochemistry and no desire to end up in a lab.
Thanks to the larger amount of career changes, you’re not alone. You need to sit down with your resume and create new ways of describing yourself. The first step is to find skills that all employers want and can be applied universally.
If you’ve worked in a lab, or have dealt with a lot of technical material, you will want to highlight the fact that you are good at parsing details and can effectively communicate complex concepts. This is especially helpful if you plan on entering a technical field. On the other hand, if you are a liberal arts major looking to get into something more scientific, you will want to peruse your job history for instances where you used programs like Excel and did calculations.
But let’s look at a specific job listing, for a product copywriter and listing writer. The company asks for excellent command of English language, interest in research, proof of being a self-starter and creativity. Even if you’ve worked in a lab, or in a sales position, you can still apply to these jobs.
For example, you’re now looking for coursework that demonstrates your ability to speak and write English fluently. Perhaps you got an A on every paper you wrote for a creative writing elective, or received plaudits from a scientific internship about your ability to research new equipment. Focusing on those experiences makes you come across as the right fit, even as you move in a new direction in your job search. General requirements like being a “self-starter” can be taken care of by highlighting times you’ve shown initiative.
If you’re having trouble finding skills that fit the position you’re seeking, take advantage of the government’s Occupational Outlook handbooks. They often highlight the key aspects of general positions, and can be used to research new ideas.
by John Sylo