How do you answer “Tell me about yourself” if you are a career changer, or have a non linear career path?
Let’s break it down into 3 parts!
#1: find a thread that connects your past with your present, and future.
This is usually a:
- Transferable skill that you’ve brought to all your teams
- Subject matter you’ve always been passionate about
- Results you consistently bring to others
“I started out my career as an auditor in a mid-size accounting firm where I audited over 20 public companies in xyz industries. I noticed that my strength was in building rapport with our clients and it enabled us to complete our audits ahead of schedule and under budget.
#2: Identify turning points, or critical events in your life that caused you to shift your focus or confirm your interest or strength in something.
This enables the employer connect the dots and understand your motivation for changing industries or fields.
“I realized that my strengths could be an asset to our client relations team when I helped them secure a renewal contract with one of our biggest clients and also improved a client relationship that was at risk. This moment made me aware of how critical relationship-building is.”
#3: Show your commitment to the new path and what you bring to the table.
This could include:
- A fresh perspective on company challenges/goals from your diverse background
- Passion and clarity on your strengths and interest that align with the role
- Recent ways you have engaged with this new direction (events, books, info chats, ppl you met from their company.
“Now, I’m looking to bring both my strength in relationship building as well as my accounting knowledge into the wealth management industry, an area I’ve always been interested in. In fact, I attended the Annual conference last year and heard your CEO give the keynote. Your company really stands out as one that values your clients. I believe I bring the ability to learn quickly and build the types of relationships your teams strive for here.”
Here’s the most important thing: Always bring it back to THEM. No matter how you decide to tell your story, add at the end why you’re the right fit for what they need!
💡YOUR TURN: If you don’t have these parts fully worked out yet, find one to start building a case for. Think about what your transferable skills are and any proof of your abilities you can share or create new opportunities to exhibit. Also, brainstorm more ways to engage with the new direction you’re interested in (i.e. going to related events, professional organizations, setting up info chats with people who are established in the industry, getting a certification in a new skill….any ways to build your case for why you think you will succeed in this new area).
Ultimately, the more evidence you can show of your results as well as your commitment to this new path, the more a company can trust in you right off the bat and feel like they are making a solid hiring decision.