Find Your Dream Job, Episode 303:
How to Sell Yourself During a Career Pivot, with Roshaunda Green
Airdate: July 7, 2021
This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.
I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.
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You’re ready to switch careers. You start applying for jobs in your new field, and you get no offers.
Our guest today says to be successful, you need to explain why you want to change sectors and what you offer.
Roshaunda Green is here to talk about how to sell yourself during a career pivot.
She’s an account manager for diversity and inclusion at SourceAbled and Rangam Consultants.
Roshaunda helps employers hire all candidates, as well as qualified people, with autism, neurodiversity, and disabilities.
She joins us from Atlanta, Georgia.
Well, let’s jump right into it, Roshaunda. What do you mean when you say career pivot? What do you have in mind there?
We are dealing with a very unique situation that we have here. We have a global pandemic, we have the unemployment rate the highest it’s been in decades, and we also have a lot of people that are wondering what’s next? “I’ve been laid off.” “I’ve been furloughed.” “I’ve been unemployed for quite some time, and I’m getting frustrated.” So, what you need to do in your career, I would say, to reevaluate constantly is to reinvent yourself and to be able to pivot.
How do you do this? What you do is you really focus on your transferable skills. You hone in on your storytelling ability to talk about how your experience and that job description, how they marry, and how you’ll execute those tasks in the workplace. So, a lot of people have a lot of problems with that, Mac and I’ve been doing career counseling and coaching for over ten years, and that always seems to be an obstacle for people.
I’m so glad that you brought up transferable skills and storytelling. I want to dig into both of those topics, Roshaunda, but let’s talk more about why people want to make a career pivot. You mentioned some of the big changes that have happened in the last year, the pandemic, the unemployment rate, but people make career pivots even during good times. What are some of the typical reasons you see?
I know, for me, in my career, I was at a company for 17 years, and I operated in 5 different roles and five different departments. When you find yourself on auto-pilot, and you’re coming in and just doing your work effortlessly, then that’s when you need to think about doing something different to challenge yourself. So, a lot of people think about upward mobility, which is great, but lateral moves are also very valuable. And so, what you want to look at is, where are other opportunities to either grow in this department, to advance in this role, by taking on some stretch assignments, or going to your manager and asking for additional opportunities or responsibilities, because you are interested in growing and excelling to the next level.
Also, looking outside of your company. You should always make sure that you are marketable and hirable. So, you want to always look for jobs outside of your company to apply for and to keep your interview skills up to par.
The examples that you shared, Roshaunda, I like, whether it’s looking for opportunities in your current department or even outside your company, and I think many people, when they find themselves, as you said, doing something effortlessly and thinking it’s time for a change, they look for another job in their current field, but with a career pivot, we’re talking about changing sectors entirely, aren’t we? Or professions?
Yes, and I’m addicted to challenges, and so, for me, that just really drives me to succeed because even when I was at one company for 17 years, the roles and the departments were so different that it even baffles me. And every time I explained my career progression, they were like, “Well, how did you go from project management to human resources, to professional development center, to talent acquisitions, to diversity and inclusion?”
I was able to look at my transferable skills, to do my due diligence and research to understand the roles and departments that I was applying for, and to really sell myself with my storytelling capabilities and understanding what they wanted, what they needed, and what I was able to bring to the table, and how I would really maximize my potential in that department. And that just kept giving me more confidence when I continued to apply for roles and advance my career, and that’s what really helped me to help other people in their pivots or transitions because you really have to break outside of your comfort zone, and you really have to have that confidence, but you have to do the work.
You have to make sure that you know what you’re talking about, you have to make sure you know what they want, and you have to have enough information to talk to them like you’re already working in the role.
Well, let’s talk about the work that you need to do. And you’ve mentioned transferable skills several times, and I know that many of the job seekers that I know who want to make a career pivot struggle with that. In the work with your clients, Roshaunda, to help them get clear about their transferable skills and explain why they are transferable to a new profession or pivot or career, rather, what do your clients do that is most effective?
The main thing that you want to look out and find is the connection points. You want to find those intersections. So, I’ll use myself as an example because I can speak about myself. So, how do I take a project management background and apply that to Human Resources?
Easy, because in Human Resources, there are a lot of new processes, procedures, and guidelines, events that need to be managed in project teams. So, I brought my project management skills into my HR interview to advance my career, to show them how these project management skills align with this Human Resource role that I’m applying for, and then how I will use my strengths to advance, not only your initiatives but to keep things on track and on course, while clearly understanding, working closely in Human Resources in my project management role, how I understand how your structure is and how you roll out initiatives.
I’m literally talking about the job that I want and how I executed it in the job that I’m leaving. So, you really have to understand what you did in your accomplishments, to what you want to do, and what they’re looking for.
To do that successfully, you have to have clarity about the job that you want and why it makes sense, don’t you?
Yes, not only that, but you also have to, and I did this; I’ve been on LinkedIn for years, and I was working internally in the company, but I didn’t know a lot of other people other than my Human Resources partner and some of the team members that I worked with on some projects. So, I’ll reach out and have coffee or tea with them, but I would also go on LinkedIn, look at their background. Sometimes people would be very detailed on LinkedIn and share highlights from different projects or initiatives. And I would really try to understand what they were doing in their roles, especially when I saw people in the roles that I was applying for.
I always try to find someone at that company, in that department that I’m going to work for, so that I can do my due diligence in research, along with researching the company, the company’s goals, and initiatives. But I’m finding those specific people that are doing what I want to do and making sure that I’m highlighting those skills and things that I’ve executed.
When you find those people who are doing what you want to do, do you approach them? Do you recommend approaching them and talking to them, or are you…do you simply recommend online research?
I think you have to go with your personality. For me, I coin myself as an extreme extrovert. I’m just very outgoing, and I don’t mind reaching out to someone and asking them if they have time for a conversation or have time to share information with me and if they say no, then that’s fine. I think that even for those that I wasn’t able to connect directly with, I can get enough information either from their profile, or I’ll find multiple people in that organization, and then I’ll try to narrow down on certain departments. But the thing that I’m trying to best understand is, what is valued in this company?
What is valued in this department? And what do I need to focus on during my interview that would help them to understand that I know what you want, what you need, and how I can provide that in this role.
Terrific, we’re going to take a quick break, Roshaunda.
When we come back, Roshaunda Green will continue to share her advice on how to sell yourself during a career pivot.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Roshaunda Green.
She’s an account manager for diversity and inclusion at SourceAbled and Rangam Consultants.
And she joins us from Atlanta, Georgia.
Roshaunda, before the break, we were talking about how to sell yourself during a career pivot, and you made some terrific points about the importance of transferable skills, and you shared examples about how to talk about that and demonstrate to an employer that you have skills that worked in one sector in applying for the new one. And I also loved your example of doing research online, using LinkedIn to get clear about who was doing the job that you wanted and learning from them, either in person or through online research.
Let’s talk more about social media. I know that you’re a big fan of using social media to sell yourself during a career pivot. Give us some suggestions about how to do that.
The best advice that I can give to all job seekers, or even people who are in a career and they’re ready to pivot, or transition is always take the opportunity to interview before the interview.
“What does that mean?” I know that’s what you’re going to ask me.
So I’ll answer.
Yeah, “What does that mean?”
So if I want to work for Rangum or SourceAbled, I’m going to follow them on all their social media platforms. If they have any chat sessions, or any webinars, or any virtual conferences, or anything that I can attend that will allow me to show my presence, to ask questions, to engage with any of the hiring managers, or employees, or executives that will be there, then that’s what I’m going to do.
And a lot of people don’t really take that opportunity. So, I always call any engagement that I have with a company that I’m interested in working for or applying for a role, is to interview before the interview.
Tell us more about how to do that. Are we talking about leaving comments on LinkedIn posts, engaging the chat in the webinar? What do you recommend, Roshaunda?
Mac, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! So, this is what I do. So, not only am I going to follow them on all their social media platforms, I’m going to like and comment on their posts if I attend any of their virtual events, whether that be a webinar if they have a chat series, or even attending a conference. I’m going to attend those sessions specifically that they are hosting or that they have speakers from their organization as a panelist. I’m going to do my research before, you know, the sessions and have some questions ready.
I’m gonna be very active in the virtual chat or, you know, no one’s really doing physical conferences right now, but if it’s a physical conference, I’m gonna sit in the front row and have my questions ready and be the first to raise my hand and ask a very insightful question that will show them who I am.
And then, afterwards, I will definitely connect with them to shake their hand or engage.
On the virtual sessions I’ve been going to, you can actually go to the networking booths, and I’m gonna go to their booth and introduce myself and engage and dialogue with- sometimes they have recruiters at their booths, or different hiring managers, or different representatives from their company- I’m going to engage with them. Then after I engage with them, I”m going to send an invitation to connect with them on their social media platforms.
I’m going to do everything I can so they know who I am.
And how does that help you in the application process when you take all the steps?
That helps me a lot.
I actually got a role from doing that. I was interviewing with this company, and my interview was that Monday, and I found an event that they were hosting Friday. And I registered for that event quickly and attended, that was before Covid; I attended the event, sat up front, had my questions ready, engaged during the whole conference session, and then when I interviewed that Monday, they were like, “When can you start?” And I was like, “ I’m ready today.” That’s how it happens.
Well, let’s talk too about storytelling. You’ve mentioned this several times. How do you, you know, employers wonder why you’re switching careers? How do you recommend Roshaunda, telling your story, especially in your resume and in your job interviews?
Yes. You really have to be ready to answer those questions, and again, and I cannot say it enough, research is your best, it’s your best secret. Because you can go and do your research right now, and you can pull up interview questions, and they’ll have them in categories. Are they behavioral interview questions, or the top ninety-nine interview questions of the year, or the role that you’re applying for based on the industry? Are they staffing interview questions, or are they engineering interview questions? You can even go and find interview questions for specific roles: account manager, recruiter, or human resources. So, when you do all this research and you pull it all together, then you start getting your answers for these questions that will align with the role you’re applying for.
And they’ll even have questions based off of entry-level, mid-level, or executive-level careers. So, they have everything for you; it’s just how you look for it and how you find it, and even to know what to look for.
So, I would pull those interview questions together for myself for when I’m prepping or mentoring someone, and then I’ll start drilling them on those questions that will probably be asked by the hiring manager for that role. And a lot of people would get stuck or caught off guard, and that’s great because you’re probably hearing some of these questions for the first time, or when someone asked you these questions in the past, maybe you had the same reaction. Which wasn’t smooth, which wasn’t prepared, and you weren’t ready, so that means that you need to hone in and really get your storytelling together.
By practicing those questions, get in front of a camera, turn your video on, and have someone drill you on those questions. And then the more that you do that, the better you’ll get, and then even setting up and preparing for your interview, you’ll have some of those questions ready with some answers so that everything is seamless. Cause people do crack under pressure, Mac.
They do, and I think it can be a challenge for people who are moving from one profession and they want to get a job in a new profession, so it can be a challenge to answer questions about that new profession and your tip about looking for those standard questions online is a good one.
What about the “why?” here, though? An employer’s talking to you, the candidate, and you want to move from this occupation to this new one. How important is it, Roshaunda, to explain why you’re making that move?
So I know with this question it could go very well or it can go very, very bad.
So what you really have to do is always answer the question in a way that highlights your potential and your strengths and to really speak to why they would want to hire you. Because when you’re answering interview questions, they really want to see what type of employee you’re going to be, what type of team player, how you’re going to come and be an asset and a liability to that team, department, or organization. So you always have to answer in a positive light.
When I’m interviewing for a role, I always let them know what I bring to the table. What my short or long-term possibilities of executing this role in your organization or department can be, and also what I can contribute. I’ll even think of some projects, or initiatives, or ideas that they may not have thought of before. I’ll bring that, and I’ll add that to my interview preparation by doing research on your company website, by researching different employees in your organization, or in your department. I know that you’re working on a couple of deliverables, and in my past experience, these are some highlights to the way that I have successfully executed these deliverables. So I’m speaking to them about something that they’re currently working on or the organization has a laser focus on in a priority to execute, and I’m talking to them about how I can do that.
And that’s how you really bridge the gap with those transferable skills and with that pivot. You have to lean into the pivot and speak to the pivot and show how you can easily transition in a seamless manner.
And it’s striking that you describe that strategy, Roshaunda, that you’re thinking about the needs of the employer, not just about yourself, aren’t you?
It always should be about the employer because I’m not working for myself; if I was working for myself, I wouldn’t be interviewing for this job. So you always have to give them what they’re looking for, and if you stay focused on meeting their needs, and I would even say to be aggressive with it, to exceed the expectations in that interview.
So I came to tell you about myself, but did you know that I was going to actually pitch some ideas about what I can do when I get hired? And every hiring manager, whether they say it or not, they want someone to come and hit the ground running. And how do you do that? Because you have to understand what we want, what we need, and what we do. And if you show that in that interview, then you’ll have a definite, I won’t say it’ll put you in the front of the candidate pool, but it’ll definitely make you stand out. It’ll make you stand out because that’s something that they weren’t expecting.
Now, to be honest, Mac, some interviews, they’ll say, “Be ready with a presentation, be ready with a sales pitch, we want to see some dashboards.” Some will ask for that. But for the ones that are not asking specifically for those things, then why wouldn’t you have that ready? Why wouldn’t that be something that would just be normal for you? To make sure that they know who you are, and what you can do, and that you understand what they want from you.
Well, terrific advice, and it’s been a great conversation, Roshaunda. Now, tell us what’s next for you?
So, what’s next for me is I am at Rangam and SourceAbled, and I do career chat sessions for SourceAbled every other Monday and for Rangam every other Friday, and I’m just trying to employ the masses.
I work for a staffing agency. We have tons of jobs and opportunities, and hopefully, someone listening to this today will reach out to me so that I can take you from a job seeker to an employee.
Well, I know people can learn more about your chats, and I encourage them to check them out- you’re doing great work- by visiting your LinkedIn page, and I hope they’ll also mention that they heard you on this show. And that’s Roshaunda Green. You’re also on all the major social channels, and people can connect with you there as well,
So, Roshaunda, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to sell yourself during a career pivot?
In order to sell yourself during a career pivot, you have to do research. You have to practice; you have to step outside of your comfort zone and interview before the interview. But most of all, you just really have to be courageous and own your career and own your pivot.
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Next week, our guest will be Victor Cato. He’s the talent acquisition and retention manager for the Northwest Regional Education Service District.
When you work for a diverse and inclusive organization, you get exposed to different ideas. You’re also encouraged to share your own opinions. And you’re more likely to learn new skills.
But how do you find an employer like this? Join us next Wednesday when Victor Cato and I talk about how to find an inclusive workplace.
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!