I once met with a client and we talked about what she was hoping to focus her career direction towards. She mentioned helping companies create strategic business plans and specifically wanted to focus on small businesses starting out. I was impressed. I liked her clear perspectives and direction. When I asked what her experience was she said “I like talking to people about this and I am very good at providing advice.” I asked again what her specific experience was so we could establish her credibility in her resume. What floored me was that she said she didn’t have any “real” experience but that people should just trust her given her education and passion. I kindly told her that it just doesn’t work that way.
I do understand that sometimes your current or past job title or position may not 100% align to the direction you want to take. I’ve been there. I get it. You want to take your skills and capabilities and utilize them in a different, perhaps more fulfilling manner. There are ways to showcase your talents and establish credibility for future and different opportunities. You need to help future employers see you in the role you want even if it may not jump out from a title or a specific role you had in an organization. However, you must also take action to fill gaps in experience where they exist. Be honest with yourself. Can you step into your “dream” role without honing any additional skills or gaining additional experience? You owe it to yourself and to your potential employer to gain the requisite experience in the areas you want to develop and work in. You have to establish your credibility, it is that simple.
How do you establish your credibility?
There are a number of ways and it does involve having a plan and making an investment. By investment I don’t only mean money. Investment could be time. I know, I know. You are saying “I have no more time in my schedule to devote to this! Why can’t I just write my resume so it sounds like I can do it?” Again, it just doesn’t work that way.
First, the plan. Understanding what you want to do is the first step. Say for instance you know this – you have been doing content development for an on-line retailer and now you want to move into managing strategic projects for a brick and mortar retailer. What skills do you think you need to move to this new opportunity? If you aren’t sure you should take the time to do a bit of research. Check out job descriptions for the role you want. Find people on LinkedIn that have your “dream” job. What certifications do they have? What types of roles did they have getting to where they are now? Are there any professional organizations you could join to start to network and interact with people in the area you want to move to? How about volunteering in a way that uses the skills you are looking to strengthen? Could you run a project for a non-profit that involves an auction or some other type of retail aspect? These are just some ideas. I am sure you can think of a few yourself.
What makes you credible?
Now, the second step, the investment. This is where you, based on the plan you developed in step one, sign up and show up. It may, unfortunately, also involve paying up. Maybe one of your items is to receive a project management certification of some sort. This will probably cost some money but in the long run would be worth it. This is the step that is all about doing – doing whatever you think is necessary to gain the experience in the area you want to focus on.
Once you have taken the steps necessary to demonstrate your skills and capabilities, then and only then, can you begin to establish your credibility in your resume.