So, how do you change career?

I recently read an article about ‘How to get your foot in the door of a creative agency’ and, as many things do, it irked me and got me thinking. The main thing I learned from the article is, not only was it aimed at people who are fresh from graduating from a relevant course at Uni but to stand out you must offer the Creative Director of the agency food or a flavored beverage. At the time of reading, I thought, wow that sounds great, I could do that – job in the bag!

Then I thought that’d be false and conformist, why can’t I stand out for being good at what I do and for not conforming to that particular norm – I realise that there is an enormous amount of competition for what I want to do, especially as I’m changing career at a later age, and possibly because I’m female, and to cap it all off these design agencies get bombarded with emails daily.

So the question is, what should people in my position do to stand out?

I immediately got to work, grabbed hold of Twitter and got responses from a bunch of lovely people who took some time out of their busy day to tell me some of their career change experiences. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people come forward.

From the questions I asked it’s refreshingly clear that a lot of people have the guts to make the move. It’s also apparent that many self-learn too, I’d had mixed feedback about whether I should have trained, but the lack of funds and time have meant I’ve had to get on with it myself.

The responses I got from questions I’d asked people who had successfully changed career were awesome and some even paralleled with my own story so far;

Anth Winter said that the way he knew he’d stood out was because the company had recognised his determination and passion for his chosen career path and so were keen to offer him the position. He also said that he’d applied to the company he now works for twice, the second time he applied, he got the job.

Daniel Howells said that the reasons for making his career change was ultimately because he had absolutely no interest in what he was doing and was working with people he didn’t respect. He figured he should be doing the thing he’d been doing in his spare time instead. He also confirmed that he had never had any training or education in his chosen career path and is purely self-taught.

Joel Smith said that there were two things that made him stand out, he’d taken the time to write careful and well thought out cover letters to each job and tried to meet people face to face before applying. One of the best things he says he did was to work for himself for a while, he learnt a lot about clients and the kinds of projects he was more interested in.

James Young said that he had no background in design, no qualifications or experience and at the time, wasn’t freelancing or doing side projects like many people do these days. In the end, he decided to save up his wages to allow him to quit the company he was working for at the time and live (frugally) while he took a Masters Degree at Leeds Met in “Creative Technology”.

It’s clear that passion and determination are the two things that stand out from all of the responses I received. I gave up looking for jobs after the interviews were coming back with the same feedback ‘great portfolio but not enough experience’. So, the moral of my quest is I need to get back on that horse and carry on until I reach my goal.

So, to all you career changers out there, here’s what I’ve learnt personally and with a little help from some people who’ve been down this road; don’t give up, keep your passion and dream alive and if you feel like you’re flagging from the rejection and the sheer pressure, take a breather, remember why you decided to make the change in the first place and use that energy to keep on trucking.

p.s I’m still looking. If you want to have a chat about me working for you, give me a shout!

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