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How To Explain A Career Transition

A button that says career start on it.

Lately, it seems as if many people are changing their career paths and moving to the nonprofit sector. During times of transition, it can be challenging to explain to potential employers what is going on in your professional life and how it can be a benefit.

Strategy consultant Dorie Clark shares some advice on Harvard Business Reviewabout how to explain your transition and how to get others to understand where you’re coming from. The key, she says, is telling a story that connects your past experiences to where you are currently in the present. Here’s more from Clark:

"It’s also important to identify the underlying themes that connect your professional experiences, because people generally prefer narrative continuity: a story is “better” and makes more sense to them if they see it as a logical extension of the past, rather than a rupture. When public radio executive John Davidow was appointed to head online operations at his station, it may have seemed like an unusual development for a 50-something veteran of traditional media. But he embraced the change eagerly — in part because of his sense that the new online world wasn’t a break with his media past but rather, a continuation of it. “My whole career, I’ve been a bit of a nonconformist,” he says. He began his career in TV news at the start of the satellite era and “we were in many ways defining what local television news was. There still weren’t really rules of the road.”

"He sensed that same liminal potential in the online world. Even though the tools may be different (social media instead of satellite trucks), the basics of creating a powerful news experience are the same. So John isn’t a newbie digital executive with only a few years of experience. Instead, he argues he’s been doing the same thing for his entire career: telling stories and being a change agent."

I am also going through a career transition and have found that injecting a little color and storytelling into my conversations has helped my colleagues and connections understand more of where I want to go and why…and how I can use my past experiences to bring value in a new field.

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