Many years ago, I had a side gig as a professional resume writer. I wrote thousands of resumes for people in every field, at all levels: from recent college graduates to blue-collar workers to retirees to entrepreneurs to CEOs of enormous companies. But there was one kind of client that I enjoyed working with the most: the career changer, someone who is actively switching professions or has had experience in many fields.
Career changers consistently had the most interesting professional paths—which made for the most interesting resume writing experience. They were driven, passionate, and inquisitive. They could often quickly identify their most transferrable skills, and articulate exactly how they proposed to use those skills in new ways.
In my experience (and the experience of my clients): companies benefit when they actively try to hire career changers—-here’s why:
1. They’re not afraid to take risks.
Career changers aren’t afraid to think outside of the restrictive, growth-inhibiting box. It takes real guts to change your career path (especially later in life, or after you’ve made a dent in another profession). Career changers tend to be focused, driven, passionate people who aren’t afraid to start over or try something new. These are incredibly valuable attributes for any employer who is looking for a driven, big-thinking, and creative employee.
2. They bring valuable perspective.
Ever heard of a polymath? It’s not only a good word to use in Scrabble (7-letter bonus!); it’s an asset that any company should be praying for. A polymath is a person whose expertise spans many different areas. Leonardo da Vinci was one. So was Ben Franklin and Hildegard von Bingen. Career changers are polymaths of a kind, bringing a wide variety of skills from their “previous lives” to any organization—skills that single-career-track professionals are less likely to have explored. That translates to innovative thinking and a more holistic, well-rounded approach to challenges.
3. They tend to be open-minded and love learning.
People who start over in new fields can’t afford to be rigid; they’re automatically more open to learning, thinking creatively, and collaborating. These are people who are independent enough to have changed paths, but who are also flexible enough to adapt new habits, and that makes them more likely to be able to lead (or work within) a team effectively. In fact, one could argue that by hiring a career changer, companies may even be hiring a “smarter” employee—since learning new skills has been proven to sharpen the brain.
The old, one-track-career days are fading fast. Adapting your company’s recruiting policies to welcome candidates with diverse backgrounds is a great way to ensure you find the best talent out there. Interested in changing your career? Check out our full-time, immersive courses that will give you the job-ready skills you need to land your dream gig in web development, product management, or user experience design.
Kate Hamill is a writer at Freelancers Union, a membership organization that provides benefits, resources, and advocacy for 250,000 independent workers and entrepreneurs nationwide. Membership is free – join at freelancersunion.org.