Ask an Expert INTERVIEWS / JUL. 05, 2017
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How do I tell employers why I changed careers?

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Dilemma:

I have a BTech in chemical engineering, and worked as a production engineer for one year, but then I decided to change careers to work in industrial safety. I got a postgraduate diploma in industrial safety and became a safety executive in the construction field.

Currently, I am working on an oil and gas project and looking forward to work in a health and safety position in the process industry. The reason I chose to switch careers and work in the safety sector is that it has better opportunities in comparison to production. It would also allow me to work in my hometown.

But, I am nervous about one particular interview question. If the interviewer asks me why I chose to switch careers and work in industrial safety, what would be the best answer to give? Thank you, waiting for your reply.

 

Kyriaki says:  

Hi there! Generally, there is one fundamental rule that I keep telling jobseekers to follow, and this is not to lie on their job applications, CVs or interviews. You should tell employers the exact reason you wanted to change careers.

As a health and safety adviser, I am sure you know that you can work in many different industries including construction and engineering, mining, quarrying, oil and gas exploration, manufacturing and chemical processing. Since you have a degree in chemical engineering, this makes it easier to explain to employers why you have made that decision, which is not too different to your original career choice.

The reasons you have given for changing careers are completely understandable. Health and Safety offers better career prospects in contrast to production. You are also doing this for geographical reasons since you want to relocate and work in your hometown. If this is the case, employers can’t discriminate against you or judge you since it is a matter of personal choice.

But, for job interview purposes, you need to find a way to explain this and come up with a convincing answer. Here are three ways to do this:

Example 1: A new challenge

‘I felt that I was ready to take the next step in my career and challenge myself more. I took a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do, and the best way for me to grow and learn was to move into a health and safety management role.’

Example 2: Career prospects

‘After a lot of research, I found that there were more career opportunities for me in this field. I also find health and safety more interesting than production engineering and as far as it concerns my future plans, it’s easier to imagine myself working in this kind of role.’

Example 3: Relocating

‘For family reasons, I needed to move back to my hometown.The number of opportunities for Health and Safety professionals was much higher than production engineers, so it was a pragmatic choice as it’s a relatively similar field.’

The reason employers ask this question is to determine whether you put enough consideration into such a big decision. However, even if the three answers above don’t apply to you, there are many other honest and relatable answers you can give e.g. explaining that you are looking for a new challenge, want to develop your skills, that you want to discover a new industry or focus on a more specialised area.

Hopefully, this helps to eliminate the confusion. If you are still unsure about what you can do, have a look at the following articles to help you out:

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