Career Stereotyping

So, this is probably not what you think. But it can affect people just as much as any other type of stereotyping.

It  happens regularly in the work world, especially now in a generation of what I call “mobile employment” (people aren’t staying at one company working for the gold watch anymore–they move).  You want to change your career–not to something totally different, but to something else. You have the skills to do it, in fact, you have used the skills in your previous positions. You’re applying for positions in that field, but no one’s hiring you. They aren’t even calling you back. They’re probably career stereotyping you.

HR and hiring managers look at hundreds of resumes for some positions. They look at them for about 30 seconds to try to narrow down the number of real potentials. Some things that are probably getting you into the resume “slush pile” (writer term for rejection) are

  • Previous job titles don’t match what they want
  • No companies specializing in that field on your resume
  • Too much experience for the job you’re applying to
  • They don’t know you (like YOU know you)

There are a few ways you can minimize career stereotyping and some tips  I’ve found on how to deal with it.

  1. Create a functional resume. Functional resumes highlight what you’ve done, not when you did it, or where, or under what job title. Most people don’t have one of these, so it stands out, and the placement of information focuses that extra few seconds on the right information.  Resumes are not the same as applications; they are sales tools for what you can bring to a company. Make your sales tool work for you. Here’s an example of a functional resume on Monster. *Note: most online applications that parse resumes have a hard time parsing the functional resume. Have a chronological one as well.
  2. Don’t list more than 10 years relevant experience on your resume. This is a general note for every job seeker, but for the career changer, this is even more critical. More often than not, your career change may mean taking a lower position than you had before or even an entry-level position in that field. If an HR rep sees 25 years experience, they are going to think “I can’t afford this person” or “they are overqualified for this job.” And your resume gets tossed.
  3. Immerse yourself in your new career. Research the position, network with people who are in the position (preferably local people who may be connected with hiring managers), join professional organizations, groups or clubs related to the career. The work world is big, but when you narrow it down to specific career in a specific locale, it can become a very small world. And now you’re visible in it.
  4. Get additional education, licenses or certifications. Even if you know what you’re doing, it never hurts to have additional education specific to your new career under your belt. That is more accepted than any job skill you have. Plus, something may have changed in the career, so now you can be up on the latest: another plus for your chances.
  5. Patience and planning are key. If you are changing careers, it’s probably going to take longer for you to get hired than if you weren’t. If you’re not already working, plan accordingly–finances, plan B scenarios, etc. If you are working (or have the luxury for a long search), have patience that it will happen. People change careers all the time; you aren’t the only one out there doing it.
  6. Have hope–it only takes 1. Of the hundreds of resumes you may send out, many may be discarded or filed away. But it only takes one person seeing your potential to get you hired. So do not lose hope. For every no, that’s one step closer to a yes.
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