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Asked by Danh on November 10, 2015

I graduated with an Industrial and Systems Engineering degree, but went to work in an oil field to gain hands-on experience, and then hoped to get promoted into an office role. I was laid off, and I'm now looking for a career shift but have no work experience in the office setting. I don't want to work in the field anymore. Any suggestions on how I should go about my job dilemma?

Answered by Dave, Hiring Expert at Asurion, on November 10, 2015

The time you spent in the field can differentiate you from other candidates with similar academic credentials, particularly for office jobs in related industry segments like energy, heavy equipment, transportation logistics or manufacturing. I know you mentioned you are looking for a career “shift”, but consider employers where your field experience can be relevant. These also happen to be industries where ISE degrees are in high demand! When summarizing your field work, highlight what you learned about the business -- insights, unique perspectives and transferable concepts -- from being on the front line. Make that hands-on experience work to your advantage!

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on November 16, 2015

Switching gears and shifting into an area of business you don't have experience in means casting a wide net, being prepared to leverage the experience you do have and networking your way into your field of choice.  In this employment climate, you need to find ways to get your skills, your experience and eventually your face in front of the right people.

Once you narrow down the field, attend networking events in that arena, make connections via LinkedIn and social sites geared towards your area of interest.

If there are tactical holes in your experience, try and pick up a few classes.  If there it is knowledge you need, seek out opportunities where you can information interview so you can ask questions of people already in the roles you'd like to obtain.  Have a look at the profiles of the people who have the jobs you are interested in and see how they got there.

It is great that you have decided to make your life and your career into what you want it to be.  Best of luck to you!

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Answered by Bret, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on May 4, 2016

Thank you for the question. You are facing a common career challenge, one that I went through earlier in my career as well.

First, stay positive and focus on your transferrable skills. Recruiters and Talent Acquisition professionals are highly attuned to notice a lack of confidence or uncertainty in candidates. If you go into a phone call or a discussion worrying about what you don’t bring to the table, it will get noticed. Take time and think of all the things that will make you a success in your new direction. An example is problem solving. As an Engineer, you will bring a methodical approach to solving issues in your new office environment.

Second, know your career plan and how that will help the companies you are applying to work with. A broad range of experience is a GOOD thing. The best companies (like Emerson!) will embrace it instead of turning it away. Frame your experience into why you are looking to transition and how that will lead towards your broader career goals.

Third, be realistic about the situation and cast a wide net, but not so wide as to come across without direction. Research the companies and industries you are interested in and in doing so you will be able to identify those that are looking for candidates with a wide range of experiences and skills. Use some restraint from sending your application everywhere.

Finally, use your network. A connection, former colleague, a friend or a relation will be able to point you towards plenty of opportunities. Don’t underestimate the value in talking though your career aspirations with others.

The best companies will always recognize, reward and promote those that do there job very well, get things done and demonstrate the ability to learn and grow. Changing career direction is a great example of that.

Good Luck!

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