“How Do I Get Employers To Take Me Seriously In My New Field?”

After successfully working her way up in a tough corporate environment, Minnie realised that she was in the wrong career. She's since worked hard to retrain, but she's finding paid work impossible to come by. When you've got so much to offer, how do you get employers to recognise your value?

What's your career history and current job?

My career has been mostly spent in high-level corporate finance.

I gained experience and qualifications within a Big Four accounting firm, and I've spent almost a decade working successfully in roles all over the world.

However, I'm not currently working.

How do you feel about your work?

I'd always felt finance was a good, stable career to be in, with a clearly defined career path.

I quickly saw that the more highly qualified you are, the more money you can earn, so I concentrated on studying and learning. I became very successful as a result, constantly moving up the career ladder.

But during my career, I've worked extremely long hours, often involving very little contact with colleagues or clients. Instead, I mostly sat behind a desk, quietly updating complicated Excel spreadsheets. That kind of work felt monotonous rather than meaningful, and sometimes it seemed as though it didn't matter if I was there or not.

I've also seen first-hand just how unstable and transient the finance world really is, particularly after a recession, when there are lots of sudden redundancies. The stability of the career path I'd chosen felt false, and I started to realise that a career in finance was more my parents' dream than my own.

After some unsuccessful job hopping, I decided to leave my career behind, and concentrate on developing something more meaningful.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I want to work closely with people, helping them through coaching and training essential workplace skills.

These include listening, empathising, and tackling important issues like well-being and diversity.

An HR or training-based role in a corporate environment would be an ideal next move for me.

As I progressed in my finance career, I started meeting clients face-to-face, which brought my people skills into play. I realised that I was good at connecting instantly with others, and making them feel comfortable.

I was then asked to help manage a redundancy programme for a large finance firm. This involved a need for me to concentrate on softer skills, such as active listening, empathising, and mentoring colleagues, all of which I really enjoyed.

Since I left my finance career, I've worked hard on retraining. I've completed a career coaching course, and I've gained a degree in business psychology.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I thought my experience and qualifications were all I would need in order to shift my career in a rewarding new direction, but I've found that isn't the case.

In an effort to find my dream role, I reach out to HR directors on sites like LinkedIn all the time, and I'm doing a lot of networking. While I've been having some interesting conversations, the underlying message I'm getting is that I'm either overqualified, or I've left it too late to start a new career.

I don't hear back from the many jobs I apply for, but I've received a handful of offers from companies to work with them in HR or training roles. These would be unpaid initially, so that I can gain the right experience and justify my worth.

But I don't feel I should have to work for free, when I bring so much corporate experience and so many hard-earned qualifications to the table.

People keep telling me to start my own well-being business instead, but for me it's not as simple as that. I don't know where I would begin, I haven't got the capital, and in any case I'm not sure I want to work for myself.

My self-esteem has taken a huge knock recently; so much so that for the first time in my life, I've started to suffer from anxiety attacks. Meanwhile, things have become so bad financially that I've had to move back in with my parents.

I've now started wondering if I should just accept one of the unpaid roles I've been offered, and hope I can prove myself enough to earn a decent salary over time.

I'm so passionate about starting my new career, but how can I get a foot in the right door when employers don't seem to be taking me seriously?

Can you help Minnie?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Minnie could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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