“How Do I Sell My Change Of Direction To Future Employers?”

Glenn's ready to move into more meaningful work. He's got a lot to offer, but he's finding it hard to present his shift in a way that makes sense to recruiters. How do you persuade people in a new sector that you're the right person for the job?

What's your career history and current job?

I've worked in property development for the past ten years as an asset manager.

I'm responsible for managing large retail centres – I make sure they're operating efficiently and effectively in order to grow sales and make profit.

I've also done an MBA to broaden my understanding and to learn about different areas of asset management, as I started to realise about 18 months ago that the commercial side of things wasn't really motivating me.

How do you feel about your work?

While I was excited to join the industry when I first started, over the years I've realised that it's just not aligned to my values.

My wife and I are not massive consumers; we're almost what you'd call minimalists.

The whole mass consumption machine doesn't resonate with us, so I feel quite conflicted being in an environment where one of my main functions is to generate more sales from the assets I manage.

My role involves encouraging people to spend in retail in order to increase the value of the properties – or assets – that I look after.

To my mind, I'm basically pushing mass consumption, which is totally opposed to my personal values of sustainability and reducing waste.

There are elements of the work that I enjoy: the analytical side of things, seeing people grow and succeed, strategy development and getting an insight into consumer behaviour.

But I'd like to transfer those skills to an area that isn't so driven by mass consumerism and profit.

What would you like to be doing instead?

The future definitely lies in property.

I've looked at non-retail property asset management, which could mean managing the property portfolios of charitable organisations or schools.

I feel that would be an opportunity to use my skills for a meaningful cause, supporting organisations that are focused on people rather than profit.

I've gone for about half a dozen roles like that, including one where I'd be managing a variety of different property portfolios for a non-profit organisation, including assets such as schools, childcare centres and affordable housing.

That really appeals because I could see myself doing my bit towards creating an environment that helps people grow, that facilitates children's education, and helping provide homes for people who'd really benefit from them.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I'm finding it challenging to articulate my motives in a way that doesn't lead people to make the wrong assumptions about me.

One of the first things people say, when they see my CV, understand my background and realise I'm in a relatively senior role, is “Why do you want to do this?”.

It's almost as though people think I'm taking a sideways or backward step.

There was one case where I spoke to a guy about an opportunity that interested me; I explained that I wanted to do something more meaningful with my skills and he was really understanding.

But in other cases, where I've sent in my CV and a letter, I think people have made assumptions about the role not being right for me because of the apparent mismatch with my current position.

So I don't even hear back.

At the moment, on my CV I say that I'm a property professional with ten years' experience gained in commercial environments. I highlight my leadership style and strategic skills, and my operational management experience.

I do say I want to build on my property career across different asset classes.

What am I doing wrong? Is there a better way I can sell my story?

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

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