Going into Business from a Non-Business Career
With the quickening pace of society, it’s become a norm for people to change their careers, making it no wonder why so many professionals are going back to school for such business degrees as an MBA without any previous business-related experience.
As a Career Services professional who has coached both non-traditional students and business students alike, I’ve seen that they all tend to wear the same common concern on their faces: I have a lot of experience already, just not in business. How can I make employers see that I am also a desired candidate for their job opportunities? From there, the conversation is guided by the transferable skills they do have as we find a way to communicate a helpful story.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are any skills that someone picks up in one workplace that can also help their professional development for the general workforce. These are notably ones such as communication, leadership, collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, public speaking, time management, program management, organization, and all the other buzzwords you’ve heard in job descriptions. The beauty of transitioning into a business career from a previous non-business career is that you’ve likely already developed these transferable skills, which are equally valuable and desirable in a business environment. Even as a career changer with non-business experience, the skills you have now may have already made you a potentially attractive candidate.
How, then, do you convince an employer of these attractive skills in your qualifications? This is where good storytelling comes into play. You can effectively promote your brand with a story that highlights your experience so powerfully that your lack of traditional business work experience is not as important.
Crafting Your Story
On your résumé, you will first want to indicate the various work accomplishments that are directly relevant to the business positions you are seeking. For example, if a business role requires someone who has had supervisory experience managing teams, you could share that you had held a previous non-profit position in which you led a team of fundraising professionals toward achieving the budgetary goals for continued organizational operations.
Second, when interviewing with employers who are a little confused by how your business degree would connect with your non-business experience, demonstrate your passion, assuring them that your experience outside of business has run its faithful course and that you are now seeking new challenges and opportunities to further advance a new company’s goals. For example, if an employer is concerned that you haven’t worked extensively with marketing plans or financial spreadsheets, you could share that, though you may not have directly produced marketing plans or created financial reports, your ability to adapt to a business curriculum and perform well predicts that learning new business tasks would come to you with an easy learning curve. In addition, your past work experience has given you a uniquely diverse perspective that could serve a marketing team’s understanding of a potential market or customer base.
There are a variety of ways to communicate your story and demonstrate how your previous career’s transferable skills are valuable and desirable for a future business employer. So don’t fret if you think you’re going into a business degree as a complete amateur! You may already have qualifications that can even persuade the most hesitant employers.