In the past, the discourse around job hopping or a even a complete change in career trajectory has been dominated by sentiments of concern, caution and befuddlement, but NRTH LASS contributor, Naomi Busuttil, investigates how a career change after the age of 25, into a world where you have no experience and qualifications, can be achievable and rewarding, so long as you have the the right mindset, willpower and connections.
When I quit my job as a makeup artist at 24 to pursue a new career in PR and marketing, I entered a world where I had no experience, qualifications, or contacts. At first, it was tough. Even trying to secure unpaid internships was difficult when I was competing with PR and marketing undergraduates who already had several work experience placements under their belts.
I went months without any form of employment or income before I finally managed to secure a six-month unpaid work placement with a PR agency in Leeds and, eventually, a paid entry-level role as a public relations executive for a German brand with a UK head office just outside of Leeds.
Having been born and raised in the north and never having strayed too far from my roots, I also faced the added challenge of seeking a role in Leeds in an industry that is saturated with talented candidates, but fewer opportunities for them due to the North-South divide.
More recently, due to lower living costs and the realisation that talent also lives north of the Watford Gap, a lot of companies have made the decision to move their headquarters up north – Channel 4 being one of the most notable – but London was traditionally where most big brands were based. As well as the in-house roles that the brands provided, naturally, companies in a lot of industries chose office locations closer to the capital to be nearer to potential clients and in turn, this meant that there was less competition for roles down south.
Now, with 5-years’ experience in the marketing industry behind me, I look back and realise that there was – and still is – a lack of support for candidates who are starting on a new career path.
Aside from the traditional routes of finishing education at 18 or 21 with the relevant qualification already under your belt or starting young on a career path and working your way up, other options can be hard to find, but it’s not impossible!
Rebecca Lockwood, now an NLP Master Coach & NLP & Hypnosis Trainer in Huddersfield, retrained and started her own business after leaving school without any GCSEs and working in sales from the age of 19.
“I found myself in a sales job at 19 and within a year I began a role in a start-up telecoms company building the retentions and telesales department from scratch, later being promoted to sales manager before I decided to change my career.
“I found Neuro-Linguistic Programming while looking for sales training to help me with supporting my team and had a bit of a breakthrough moment. I experienced such a transformation myself through NLP that I knew that I had to help as many other women as possible to experience it too!”
Rebecca is now a #1 best-selling author teaching neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis and coaching to female entrepreneurs, but she believes that there isn’t enough support for individuals who want to change their career or find a new route in employment.
“When it comes to business, resources exist to aid people who are wanting to embark on a new business venture, but not enough people know about this help and not everyone can invest in these kinds of things either – the government could certainly provide so much more support.”
Manchester based, managing director and Founder of The Career Break Site, Rachel Morgan-Trimmer also made the move into self-employment after spotting a gap in the market for providing career break information and advice.
First entering the workplace as an editorial assistant before taking several side steps in her career, she believes that networking and utilising social media is the best way of getting a job.
“I’ve found that networking – both on and offline – is one of the best ways to get a job, but it can take time. Do your research and make a connection by asking someone in your chosen industry for guidance – people love being asked for advice and the information they give you could be really useful to you too!
“You should also tell your friends and family that you’re looking for experience as you never know who they might know. And, make sure your public social media accounts reflect the professional image you want to project, including LinkedIn which is vital for recruitment. Be mindful of connecting with the right people, posting relevant news and articles, and so on.”
But, going self-employed isn’t the only gateway to changing your career as Katie Maudlin, a consultant at Acorn Recruitment’s Salford Quays branch experienced.
“I had to take a step back to move forward myself and I don’t regret making that decision at all. I had worked hard in sales and was proud to be one of the businesses’ top two performers. But, once I’d hit my target for the month, there wasn’t anything to focus on until next month and I felt unfulfilled. I wanted my earning potential to reflect the hard work I was willing to put in, so I moved into a role in recruitment, which meant starting right at the bottom and working my way up all over again.”
Katie advises that you should be committed to your career change and engaging in activities outside of your current role can help to prove this to an employer, in addition to helping your CV to stand out.
“If you’re sure of the direction you’d like to move in, I’d encourage you to show your willingness to succeed in a new field by taking on personal projects and training courses in the relevant areas in your spare time. You should also tailor your CV to ensure that it briefly explains your motivations for changing paths and includes your experience and skills that match what the employer is looking for.
“I’d also recommend working with a recruiter as employers will often dismiss a CV from an over or under-qualified candidate without having met or spoken with them. A recruitment consultant, however, can work as a conduit. Having screened the candidate beforehand, they are aware of the applicant’s experience and motivations for wanting to start from the bottom and are more likely to convince the employer that they are worthy of being shortlisted.”
Words: Naomi Busuttil