Dear J.T. & DALE: I am a recreation therapist who has worked in health care with geriatrics. I am trying to cross over to a management position outside of health care – community, fitness, hospitality. I’m having limited success. People act like once you’ve worked with geriatrics, you lack the skills to work with mainstream individuals. – Paula
DALE: It’s hard for me to understand how anyone could think that working with geriatrics isn’t much more demanding and arduous than working mainstream. I’ve had family members in long-term care, and I would watch the employees in awe, thinking that you’d have to be an angel to embrace that work.
J.T.: Still, I have observed what you mention, Paula: There is a perception that the work done in geriatrics and disability is not technically challenging. The assumption is that such roles require a high degree of compassion and patience, but not necessarily the highest level of business acumen.
DALE: I suppose it comes down to the old biases of “soft” versus “hard” skills. However, even without such specific biases, it’s always difficult to change industries. Everyone thinks theirs is unique.
J.T.: The only solution is serious networking. No amount of finessing your resume will convey your abilities like a one-on-one discussion. I suggest that you set up a series of informational interviews with people in positions similar to the one you want to land. Discuss with them what key skills they’ve needed to succeed.
Once you feel you have a working knowledge of what’s important, it’s time to make a new list of contacts, but this time of people working at the companies you want to work for. You need to establish connections with employees of these firms as a way to earn their trust. Given your earlier informational interviews, you can have meaningful conversations, and once people hear you speak knowledgeably about their industry, they’ll see you for your true value.
© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
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