What is some good career advice for people who want to change careers in their 30s and beyond? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
It may sound odd, but one of the best pieces of advice I can think to give is to apply for jobs at companies that you are passionate about, and where you feel you can contribute something of value, even when (and maybe even especially when) there are no relevant job openings. Just because a position isn't advertised for doesn't mean it isn't available. Take the time to write the founders, or the potential hiring manager, letting them know why you're passionate about the company and what need you can fill. This may not work as well in a large corporation, where every hire must tie to a job opening, but I've seen it work numerous times in start-ups and growth companies.
As the founder of a company, one of the number one traits I select for is the passion a candidate exhibits for the company and the role. This can be difficult to convey when you're responding to a job post, and especially so if you're making a career change and it isn't obvious how your background translates to the new role. It's far easier if you take the initiative, especially when unsolicited, to make your case. It may not work all of the time, or even much of the time, but when it does you have an exclusive audition for a role.
And to prove that I practice what I preach, this is exactly how I came to join Cloudflare. As I sought to leave the finance industry for a start-up, I was introduced to Matthew Prince, the founder of Cloudflare. Although I didn't know that it was a start-up I wanted to join, and although there was no relevant job opening at the time, our conversation led us both to the conclusion that it was meant to be. A few weeks later I joined as the head of special projects, a role that was made entirely as the result of our conversation. We made a number of other hires in this manner as well.
It pays to put yourself out there!
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