Transferring careers

Are you stuck in a career that feels like a means to an end? Perhaps you have just reached your full potential and can’t progress any further or your role is becoming obsolete.

There are many reasons why people desire a move to a different career path but there is one dominating thought that tends to stop people in their tracks, “I don’t have enough experience”.

Fortunately marketing is a career that is actually very welcoming to those looking to cross-over as it utilises many of the soft skills you find across lots of career paths. The industry specific requirements employers will be looking for, like experience and qualifications, can be developed in your own time.

Here is our guide to transferring to a marketing career and some of the things you will need to consider:

Step 1: Research

Start by researching marketing careers because its a big profession, use our guide to specialisms and role descriptions to get an overview of what it is you would like to do in marketing. Its easy to say you want to work in marketing but if you can’t define the reasons why or what it is about a certain role that motivates you to want to do it, you’ll find your interest will wane if it doesn’t happen overnight.

Career change requires a ‘short-term for long-term’ attitude. You may have to take on some extra unpaid work to gather experience before employers will pay attention to your CV, this could mean giving up time in your evenings, weekends or holidays to make it happen but this is only until you have secured the role you want. Putting in the extra effort is quite a powerful personal selling tool to demonstrate to employers a willingness to go above and beyond to make something happen.

Be realistic, if you are working in an unrelated role and taking home a pay of £30,000 you may have some great experience to take across into a marketing role but it won’t necessarily be enough to command the same salary.

You may have to enter into the industry at a lower pay grade which is often why salary is a bone of contention for wannabe career changers, they hate their job and love the idea of switching to another industry but only if they can match their salary.

This is another short-term for long-term approach, you may start on less money but you could surpass the salary you were on within a few years anyway.

If you enjoy the job you are doing, you will be more motivated to put in your best effort and therefore yield better results and there are many routes for progression and promotion in marketing careers.

Step 2: Package up your existing experience

Start by identifying a role you would like to do, get a few different versions of job descriptions for the same role title and draw up a list of the common attributes and experience employers want for this role. Use our role profile section to get a general idea of what skills are required for specific roles. Once you have your list you can start to draw up some comparisons.

The best place to start when attempting to work out how to package your skills up, is at the end. Lets look at the format of an interview as this is the last gateway to your dream job.

Most interviewers will ask questions to find out:

1. Why you want to do the job / work for the company
2. What experience you have
3. How you react in certain situations

Starting with number 3 “How you react in certain situations”, these are questions interviewers will ask to find out whether you have the right soft skills to be able to carry out the role. This is where you can make your experience applicable no matter what industry you work in.

What are soft skills? Skills you can develop in any job, that can be used in many different careers, they include:

Communications Skills
Decision Making
Time Management
Flexibility
Leadership
Problem Solving
Team work
Accepting Responsibility
Ability to work under pressure

Identify the soft skill requirements in the job description you desire, some will outline them clearly but you may have to read between the lines a little, for example if there is a requirement to manage multiple social media channels, websites and a blog then you will probably need to demonstrate how you can manage your time effectively and work under pressure.

Build examples of your soft skills than can be demonstrated through previous scenarios you have used them in effectively. Stick to the STAR formula: Give a brief summary of the Situation, Clarify what your Task was, the Action you took to complete the task, the Result of your action. Click here for our guide to common interview questions and answers.

Once you have your soft skills covered, the next step is getting the right marketing experience on your CV.

Step 3: Get some marketing experience on your CV

When I embarked on finding a career I had very little on paper that would relate to a marketing role, or so I thought. I was an 18 year old university drop out with some part time-experience in retail and an eBay shop selling vintage trainers and second hand iPod’s, from the outset it doesn’t sound like much but when I went into more detail I was able to make parallels between the role I wanted and the experience I had.

My eBay shop was generating up to 40% more revenue than some of my competitors for the exact same items due to the descriptive adverts I was writing, this demonstrated that I could market my products in a way that gave me a competitive advantage. I had developed my eBay shop further by creating a brand with a logo and colour scheme. I would include the logo on the receipts and invoices I sent out with the packages and put a sticker on the boxes.

Combining the experience I had built up through my eBay venture along with soft skills I had developed by juggling a retail job with sixth form, I got my first marketing role.

If you want to transfer your experience as a car mechanic into a role in social media then you need find or create some parallels between the role you are in and the role you want. If you can help setup or manage the social media channels in your current job then this is a great place to start. Stick to building experience in the criteria for the job description you want and don’t go off on tangents, you will have a day job to do!

If it is simply not possible to develop some of this experience in your current role then you will have to look at outside alternatives, such as:

Volunteering with a local charity to help with their marketing is a great way to gain some experience, check out our guide to volunteering and the jobs board for voluntary marketing roles.

Similarly contacting local businesses to offer a free pair of hands a few hours a week or month is a great way to get some marketing hours in the bank. Detail your current experience and what you hope to gain by offering a free pair of hands in a covering letter and start emailing it out, this is a great exchange for many businesses. You get experience and they get extra support, interning is not just for young people and it doesn’t have to last for months.

Taking a short course or a more in-depth qualification is a great way to show employers you know the theory behind the marketing and can be a great way to pick up some new skills. Many local colleges and businesses are offering shorter evening and weekend courses in digital marketing, social media and other disciplines. Whilst the more traditional professional qualifications are also on employers ‘desirable’ list, they can be expensive and are most effective in combination with work experience. check our our guide to qualifications.

Setting up a personal project like a blog or website is a great way to develop and demonstrate marketing skills and also keep an online portfolio of your experience.

Step 4: Create the perfect marketing CV

Developing a great CV is a vital link in the career changeover process. , if its not great it will get tossed aside making all the effort you did to turn your existing skills in to a neat marketing package, wasted. Don’t fall at the last hurdle and make your CV outstanding.

Follow our guide to a great marketing CV,

Network

Meet with recruiters, don’t just send them your CV, arrange to visit them and explain your situation and why you want to change sectors. Recruiters can advise you on whether you are at the stage where you have enough experience to be considered for the role you want or perhaps suggest alternative roles. Once they have you registered, you will be on their database ready for any roles relevant to your CV or that you have specified.

 

Set-up a LinkedIn and add colleagues from your current and previous jobs. People use LinkedIn for many different agendas, whether it is to look for new jobs or keep their presence up to date in case a new job is looking for them! Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date with all the relevant information. Join conversations and gain introductions to people you want to meet.

Regional events: there are a number of regular networking events held by Marketing bodies and professional organisations, check out our marketing calendar to see whats on in your area and also meetups is a great website to see if there are any local marketing groups you can join.