Career Change – 4 Tips on How to Prepare

Question: I am looking for a career change in job role from clinical data manager to being a Clinical Project manager. Although a strong skill for clinical project managers is to have worked as clinical data manager in the past and that lead data managers actually perform as a project manager also, I am worried that I’ll be offered a job below my present grade level or/and will not be given any salary raise. I am performing at an exceeds expectation level now and have the soft skills that are needed to perform as a project manager. How to prepare my resume and myself? Please advise. Thanks so much for creating this blog and dedicating your time to develop others.

Thanks for reaching out to me.  Here are four tips that may help prepare yourself and your resume.
  1. Research more about this career path – Is the Clinical PM position a natural next step for most Clinical Data Managers or is this a career change? If it’s a natural next step, then a raise can be expected.  If this is a career change on your part, then you may need to accept the same pay or lower if you switch initially.  The best way to find this out is two ways – a) find others that has made this change and talk to them about what to expect in pay change initially and long term.  Maybe the pay is low initially but can make big jumps if you do well in it.  b) start applying for Clinical PM openings to see what pay you are offered if you get the job.
  2. If this is a career change, understand the risks and decide if you really want to do it.   I wrote an article on Career Change Advice – Five Aspects to Consider Before Deciding.  If you haven’t read it already, take it look and do some soul searching to make sure you want this despite the risks. If this is a lateral career change, there is no guarantee there won’t be a same or lower pay initially.  You need to decide whether you want to do this long term given the risks.
  3. Tailor your resume for the desired position – look at job opening descriptions for Clinical PM and find out what skills they are looking for.  If you have them, emphasize them more on your resume and de-emphasize skills that are not relevant to this type of work.   Also as you talk to other people who are already Clinical PMs, ask them to give you feedback on your resume.  They would know best what is needed to get a job.  If you need a good resume template, download it here.  I also offer a step-by-step resume guide for $4.99.  It contains more information about how to tailor your resume.  You can buy it once you download the resume template.
  4. Apply to desired positions (action will alleviate the worries) – You won’t know about pay or how qualified you are until you try to apply. Find as many job openings in this field as possible and start by applying to jobs that are so-so.  It can be a good field test of your resume and interview skills.  You can learn from it and get better when you apply for more ideal Clinical PM job openings.  Remember, you can always decline the offer and stay at your current position if the pay is not what you hoped.  At least you explored it and now realize whether it’s the right move for you.
Hope that helps.  Although these tips are for one person’s questions on a specific career change, I hope you can find them useful if you are also considering a career change.   There are no guarantees in life, but if you do upfront research and take action, you can stack the odds in your favor.
– Lei
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