Change your Career in 2020

It would be a dream to earn a living whiling doing something fulfilling or as Rashida Benamar, a career coach and entrepreneur speaking yesterday at the General Assembly referred to it, doing something that "creates fire in your belly".

Recruiters seem to be oblivious to the changes in the way people deal with their working life, when hundreds of people apply for one position, SEO techniques are applied to select the top candidates, based on keywords matching the position's requirements.

Those who are doing or have done the exact same role in a different company have higher chances of being selected.

So if you work in marketing and actually dream of being a copywriter, like a young man attending the event last evening entitled "Change your Career in 2020", it's very likely that your CV won't even be seen by a human being.

Rashida said only 4% of positions are filled by the traditional method of sending out your CV and cover letter.

It's all about referrals, when a vacancy comes up if someone in the team knows someone who could do it, that will simply save a lot of hustle to employers, after all, a stranger is always a question mark.

So the best thing you can do is to actually put yourself out there and invest some time in networking. Look out for events in the area you want to work and ensure you attend 2 or 3 per month.

Rashida advises to have your 'elevator pitch' ready, this means you need to be able to summarise in a few sentences what you want to do, as if you were only taking the lift with that person for a few moments.

"You can't do a career change on your own. Find your tribe." Rashida Benamar

Or as Candice Swanepoel once posted on Instagram "your vibe attracts your tribe". Job-hunting can be highly demoralising as you have to withstand a lot of rejection but you just have to connect with that "fire in your belly" and carry on.

Rashida says you actually need to "learn to talk positively about yourself." In fact, she challenged everyone in the room to aim high and actually apply for a job perceived as "out of reach".

If doing down the traditional route, she gave a few basic tips like always addressing your cover letter to someone and realise that a cover letter is not about you but all about the employer.

Everything you write down must address their requirements, and be backed up by evidence. You can also contact the person recruiting for the position directly on LinkedIn and try organising a quick meeting near the workplace over a cup of coffee.

Remember your CV is a marketing tool and you need to tailor it as such, a crucial element is to list your achievements instead of your responsibilities.

What made the evening special was not only Rashida's expertise but above all her own example, she didn't shy away from revealing her own struggles.

There was a point when her hair even started to fall, "if you don't change your body may start doing it for you, you may have a break down or anxiety may manifest in a severe pain in your neck, or your personal life may be disrupted..."

Last year, when I moved to Paris to find a breakthrough in the fashion industry, even finding a place to live close to Chanel's head office, it happened the same to my hair and I just assumed it was the quality of the water... Needless to say, I was stuck in a job that made me miserable just to pay the bills...

Rashida's career change took four years to manifest but she emphasised that everything she did contributed to it, no experience is lost, even the bad ones, as there's always something you can learn from it.

When she landed her first job at a prestigious law firm, her experience as a waitress during university and the ability to deal with all sorts of people, was something that impressed her future boss, as she later found out while talking to him.

But we obviously need to apply some common sense, if the skills or experience don't add up to what we want to do, it's better to simply leave them out of our CV. In any case, it's all about the journey.

We just need to go beyond our fears and "be comfortable with uncertainty". Rashida recommended breaking our goal down into small achievable and time-bound steps.

I can't remember her exact words but she gave the example of someone stuck in a forest with a few paths ahead with no idea where to go.

If you get paralysed with fear, night will come and then there will be trouble. You just need to take one path and then adjust things as you go along. What's your first step? Just do it!

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