If you want to change your career with no relevant experience you might think that it will be impossible to do so. You will talk yourself out of the idea several times, self-doubt, ruminate until you are exhausted and there will be people that will tell you that you need to lower your expectations, take a pay cut or start right at the bottom. In most cases that is all very bad advice but it does depend on the industry and we are certainly not talking about leaving an admin job and becoming a surgeon the next morning here.
So having said that what do you actually need to do to get the job you really love?
The first thing to do is to step away from the fantasy and immerse yourself in as much information as you can. This will not only help you gain a thorough understanding of the job and industry you want to move into but will give you valuable insights you can use in applications, interviews and in deciding if this is the right move. Your research should cover the industry and trends, the roles you are interested in and how you will progress in that career. You should also look into the challenges faced by the industry as a whole and the companies you are interested in. You should also familiarise yourself with the who’s who in the industry and the publications that are specific to the industry.
2. Make new contacts
It’s very likely that no one will know you if you are trying to break into a different industry. Not being known and not having any experience will make it difficult to demonstrate credibility. To combat this, go to industry related networking events and meet new people and start developing those relationships with people you can ask for advice. Look into work shadowing if the opportunity exists where you currently work or volunteer for work that will give you the opportunity to gain relevant experience, exposure and skills. Ask people you already know and have relationships with to make introductions where possible. Lastly, take advantage of LinkedIn to reach out to people that you would otherwise not have had an opportunity to meet in your day to day life.
3. Update your skills
Update your skills and knowledge in the discipline by taking a short course related to the job you want to get into. If your budget allows it you can also add a professional qualification recognised by the industry, this will demonstrate your commitment to pursuing the new career path. To get quick insights you can join relevant webinars, read blogs and books on the industry and occupation. Be sure to update your CV and LinkedIn with your new skills and find or create opportunities to put the skills into practice.
4. Highlight your transferable skills
Make a list of your current skills and the skills required in the job you want to move into and identify the gaps and more importantly the transferable skills. Don’t forget there will be candidates with more relevant experience and so you will have to make a case for why you should be considered. Don’t leave a recruiter or hiring manager to decipher your career aspirations. Spell out what you can bring to the role based on your previous experience and what makes you passionate about the career change. Demonstrate how hiring you will pay off by focusing the attention on your attitude and proven results. You should also explain your vision for your career and how the career change fits in and supports this. It’s important to give the context so that you don’t come across as a candidate that is just chancing it. Don’t assume or leave any important details to interpretation.
5. Be confident
Get into the right mindset before you start any pitching. Don’t beg for the position, just because you do not yet have relevant experience it doesn’t mean you aren’t a capable individual or that you are worthless. Talk the talk, use assertive, positive and affirmative language. Understand and adopt the industry ‘”jargon” so you can elevate your conversations. Be confident and believe in yourself, buy into your own hype that you can do it first before you ask someone else to take the risk.
Come and share your career transition stories in our private online community for ambitious career women in their 20s and 30s.