Lateral entrants - Tips for employees and employers
The covid pandemic, a looming shortage of skilled workers in some occupational sectors, and changing personal preferences are causing more and more people to reorient themselves professionally. However, those who dare to make a lateral move often face a number of problems. Employers also face risks when hiring lateral entrants. Nevertheless, there are some ways to minimize the risks for both sides and increase the chances for successful lateral entry.
Reasons and motivation
What are the applicant's reasons for changing fields? These allow conclusions to be drawn about the applicant's motivation. As an applicant, you should therefore reflect carefully on your reasons for changing sectors. If you didn't like your old job because the boss was difficult, for example, this doesn't necessarily speak for a change of industry sector, but rather for a change of company. If you have identified good reasons for changing industries, you should definitely explain them in your application. Possible reasons could include a lack of personal development opportunities in the old job, a greater desire for flexible and varied work, or new personal interests. In any case, it is an advantage to be able to prove your interest and motivation with evidence such as further trainings you have already completed or other activities. It is also a good idea to include a letter of motivation in the application documents, explaining the motivation and reasons for the change of industry sector.
Self-reflection and willingness to learn
Starting in a new field is often accompanied by new professional requirements. As an employee, it is advantageous to be aware of the requirements of the new position and also reflect on the extent to which you meet them. Applicants who address the job requirements in their cover letter and specifically outline their strengths and deficiencies signal to the employer that they have addressed the challenges that come with this industry change. In case there are deficiencies with regard to certain skills, you should definitely express your willingness and motivation to participate in further training.
Skills and abilities
Since lateral entrants do not have the professional training required for the new field, soft skills are all in all more important. Does the applicant indicate in his/her cover letter certain character traits or strengths that could be interesting and advantageous for the new job? If you have soft skills such as flexibility, the ability to do teamwork, creativity, stress resistance, a high level of commitment and good time management, you should definitely mention them in your cover letter and, if possible, back them up with evidence. For example, you could emphasize that the willingness to make a lateral move already demonstrates a certain degree of flexibility. But work references, proof of voluntary or association activities are also suitable in this respect. Coming from a different field can also be an advantage. Lateral entrants add new perspectives to the knowledge horizon of a team. For this reason, you should explain in your application how your previous training and work experience are beneficial for the new work field.
Internships and further training
Sometimes, it takes a while until a suitable opportunity for lateral entry arises. In the meantime, it is a good idea to gain an insight into the chosen occupational sector through internships and further training. Do you enjoy your new field and does it suit you? In which areas are there still deficits? Internships and further training already completed not only prove that the applicant has seriously considered a change of industry sector, but it also underlines the determination and seriousness of the desire to change.
LinkedIn profiles can also support interest in the new field and the intent to switch. For example, if an applicant's LinkedIn profile already shows contacts or blog entries relevant to the new industry, this not only demonstrates a serious interest in the new field, but also shows that the applicant has already studied the new field in depth.