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Why you should consider career changers to fill your skills gaps

Mar 16, 2024 | News

Millions of people each year are embarking on a total career change – the team at Talentheads explain why they could be the solution to your recruitment and talent development needs.

When seeking team members, there’s a temptation to always go for what’s tried and tested.

Industry experience. Relevant qualifications. Technical expertise.

But there’s a growing area of the workforce that may possess none of these – yet can be your talent success!

Last year, around 1.7m people in the UK switched sectors and embarked on a career change. A 2019 poll showed that on average, we think about changing careers ten times a year – while around a fifth of us are considering retraining.

Since then, the rise of AI, the covid pandemic and current economic changes have all likely pushed more of us into thinking about the opportunity of a career change.

Undoubtedly, as an employee, the prospect of changing careers can be daunting.

You can feel as if all the technical experience, skills and progress you’ve made during your career to date is not as relevant as once thought.

Yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Career changers often bring with them far more than they realise – and it can be the soft skills that can really help them stand out from the crowd.

Increasingly, we are hearing from businesses who claim that soft skills are a becoming harder to find.

They’ve encountered candidates who may have bags of relevant experience, but don’t have the active listening and business communication skills for team collaboration for example.

Some struggle with teamwork. Others struggle to make decisions – nor are they natural leaders – while they lack traits like resilience, adaptability and empathy that are harder to scout out during the recruitment phase.

And this is where turning to career changers can help your business grow.

These are candidates who are often dripping with soft skills that, whilst harder to quantify on paper, can be just as beneficial to your business.

And the best thing about soft skills? It doesn’t matter what sector they are working in – they are highly transferable.

Career changers can be a major asset to your brand or business – and we know because we’ve just hired one ourselves.

Emily Martin joined Talentheads as our operations support and talent development advisor. Yet before that, she was a regional loss prevention manager for a national retail chain.

The roles are very different. But what Emily has – and what made her stand out – are the transferrable soft skills that showed us she’d be a great fit for our business.

She is a problem solver and a natural organiser, with experience in leading teams and coaching people to enable development for both organisations and people.

Firms looking to fill gaps where strong soft skills are a prerequisite could do a lot worse than looking at staff from different sectors who have retrained to help fill them.

And perhaps businesses need to start taking more of a ‘glass half full’ approach to candidates who have retrained, not merely viewing them as team members who need more training for the technical elements of a job – especially given that’s the side that is probably easier to teach.

Plus, these are often the candidates who can fill those harder-to-plug gaps in your business where leadership, decision making and expertise is crucial.

For businesses, it is a growing sector that is ripe for picking – and if you are one of the 20 per cent mulling over a career change, then Emily’s advice is clear.

‘Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – you may not have the direct experience required but chances are you have a huge number of portable skills to bring to a new environment.’

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