Changing careers - tips for former MPs and other jobseekers

It’s been a tumultuous week or so in UK politics, especially for all those ex-MPs now in search of new employment. But Just Recruitment is here to help, with our ultimate guide to changing careers...

By Cassie Pell, Consultant, Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Ever wondered what it feels like to lose a general election? At a national level, it’s hard to identify who won and who lost the recent snap poll. By all accounts, the person who won seems to have lost, and the expected loser has turned out to be a winner, even though he didn’t actually win. So at least that’s nice and clear.

Whatever, there’s one group of people who know all too well what it’s like to miss out in an election. That’s the group of MPs who lost their seats. People like former Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, who now faces an uncertain future just seven years after being lauded as the bright young thing of British politics during the height of Cleggmania.

So what does a former MP do to earn a crust once the voters turn against them? Use their transferable skills to pursue an alternative career, of course. And just in case they need any advice, here’s our guide to help. Who knows? It may just give you the spur to change professional course, too. 

Identify your skills, and think about how they can be applied elsewhere...

If you’re thinking of swapping careers, make a list of all the skills you’ve acquired in your working life to date. Don’t be shy. It’s not the time for self-effacement. 

Done that? Now think about other contexts in which your skills could be useful. Say you’ve been Deputy Prime Minister in a busy coalition government during a time of austerity, just as Nick Clegg was. That means you’re probably quite good at managing conflict, leading a diverse team, and bringing visions to life, not to mention doing lots with scarce resources. Makes you a pretty good candidate to join an executive board somewhere, or maybe even take over the reins as a company’s CEO. 

To take a different example, if you’ve spent your professional life fixing broken air-conditioning units, you may be the perfect candidate for another engineering job, where you can develop your skills base. And if it turns out you’re a natural at customer care, maybe now’s the time to move into sales. 

Whatever you identify as your distinctive skills set, think creatively about the value it could bring to a new employer. Then use your application to make your case. You’ll probably find the job offers come in thick and fast. 

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box...

Remember when the Conservative darling of the right Michael Portillo gave up being MP for Kensington and Chelsea in 2005? He used it as an opportunity to pursue his media career, and can now be seen fronting an array of programmes on TV. But few would have predicted this when the career politician first left the House of Commons after losing his Enfield seat in 1997. Then, it seemed hard to imagine the one-time Tory leadership hopeful as anything other than an MP.

Which just goes to show. If you think creatively about your next career move, you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The world is full of people who have given up investment banking to run a country pub, or left the world of commerce to train as landscape gardeners

Whatever you do, use the opportunity of a career change to broaden your horizons, and explore what you really want to be doing with your life. Now’s the moment to change course if you wish to. Seize it, and you’ll never look back. 

Do your homework...

Spotted your dream job? Think you’re the perfect fit? Then make sure you give the best possible account of yourself when it comes to applying.

The key to this is preparation. It’s not enough simply to be dazzling. You need to show that you’ve understood what the position you’re going for is all about. That you’ve researched the employer and grasped what they stand for. That you’re prepared to become a trusted member of their team. That you’re ready to make a difference.

Do the legwork before filling in an application form and you greatly enhance your chances of being invited to interview. This involves matching yourself against the job spec, and being sure to reference the latter when you write about the former. Do the same when you go for interview, showing at every turn how you’re the right person for the job. That way, it’ll be hard for the panel to reach any other verdict than the one you’re desperate to hear: “You’re hired!”

© 2017 Just Recruitment Group Ltd. 


Posted on Tuesday Jun 20