I need a career change but lack experience in my area of training

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor:

I have read your column and seen where you have helped others with career concerns. I hope you will be able to guide me as well.

I have an associate degree in family life education but I have never worked in the field and therefore, I have no relevant experience to show on my résumé. The experience I do have is in the areas of clerical assistance and administrative support roles.

I do very well at my job but I need a job change. I really want to work in my field of training. How can I convince a prospective employer that I am capable? Additionally, do you have any recommendations as to which organisations in Jamaica I might apply for employment?




Dear MT:

Thank you for reading the Jamaica Observer and the Career&Education career advice column. We are delighted that you have found it useful.

As you contemplate making this career change, it is very important that you assess your preparedness in respect of your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are needed for your desired profession. Consider the strategies below as a part of your personal development and preparation.

Knowledge: Keep on the cutting edge by becoming conversant with the theories, strategies, and techniques you were taught in your programme. Read relevant journals and current research findings, many of which are available online. Consider doing relevant short courses and webinars too. Many, you will find, are at no cost.

Skills: Focus on the transferrable skills that you would have developed during the course of your employment. Transferrable skills such as effective communication, teamwork and team leadership are organisational abilities that are highly valuable by recruiters.

Abilities: Seek for opportunities to develop your job-specific abilities through actual practice. Consider using some of your vacation hours or weekends to volunteer your service to gain direct experience. This could include service to community groups, religious organisations, youth clubs, and parent-teachers' associations. You could also serve as a mentor. Think of ways in which you could creatively apply your knowledge. Don't wait to be asked; make an offer outlining the potential benefits and outcomes of your proposed interventions.

As is often said, “opportunity favours the prepared”. As you engage in the activities recommended above, update your résumé periodically. It would also be useful to prepare a professional portfolio. This can be very useful in providing evidence of your actual service delivery.

There is no limit as to where you may find employment. Persons with similar qualification are often engaged in educational institutions, child care and support services, hospitals, social work and counselling centres, church organisations, criminal and restorative justice systems, etc.

Lastly, be deliberate and strategic with your job search. Be sure to utilise your networking linkages including former lecturers and your institutions' career services department.


All the best!

Career Advisor


Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm



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