You need the job to get some experience, but you need some experience to get the job. It’s the classic catch-22 that many job seekers face when starting out in their careers.
However, when you’re a seasoned professional with years of work under your belt, this is probably something you had hoped to leave in the past. But, when making a career shift, it’s a hurdle that you will need to overcome, once more.
If you’re looking to transition into a new profession or industry, there are a number of guidelines you should follow if you want to maximize your chances of success.
Set realistic goals
There is nothing wrong with aiming high. In fact, this often can lead to great achievements. But, when it comes to applying for jobs you have no experience in, you also need to remain realistic.
The best way to do this is to break your long-term goals into smaller steps, and use step one as the target for your next career move, considering how you can be ambitious without being naive. Think about what the next step should be toward your ultimate career goal, and don’t shoot straight for the CEO job. Breaking your goals down into steps like this keeps them manageable, and stops you from becoming overwhelmed.
Prepare to take a step back
When you’re changing careers, and you don’t have any relevant experience in your new field, you have to accept that you’ll need to take a step back for a while. This could mean taking a more junior role than your current position and perhaps accepting a pay cut.
However, don’t let this step back dishearten you. You can quickly begin to work your way back up the ladder, and ultimately, you’ll be working in the role or industry that makes you happy, so it’s worth the short-term sacrifice.
Or, if you can’t afford to take a lower-paid position full time, perhaps take on a part-time role or apprenticeship alongside your current job to start building the experience you need.
Try developing new skills
Another way to bolster your résumé when you don’t have any experience in your chosen field is to upskill yourself in relevant areas. Nowadays, there are several ways you can do this so you can find the learning style that best fits your lifestyle.
You could go to college to study, attending evening classes to fit around your current work schedule. Alternatively, you could complete an online course from the comfort of your own home and in your own time. There are thousands of low-cost (and even free) courses available on sites like Udemy and Teachable, where you can learn almost any professional skill.
You could even start a side hustle alongside your current position to help you learn new skills. For example, if you want to move over to the design industry, why not practice and fine-tune your skills during your free time by freelancing.
By upskilling in any of the above ways, you’ll have more talking points for your résumé. Not to mention, your continued learning shows that you are dedicated and committed to the new role.
Do some volunteering
Volunteering can help you gain some valuable experience for your résumé, whilst also a nice way to give back. Although it may be unpaid, you’ll profit from the skills and experience further down the line.
Plus, it can be much easier to secure than a full- or part-time role, and again, it can fit nicely around your current job. Volunteering also shows a commitment and proactive decision-making, which always look great to an employer.
That said, if you can’t find anything directly related to your industry, that’s okay too. Choose something close, and then work on flexing those transferable skills.
Tailor your résumé
You may already understand the value of tailoring your résumé when you’re looking for a job, but when you don’t have much relevant experience, this is even more important.
The key to “adjusting” your résumé is to focus on your qualities that are relevant to the new profession, and cut back on the parts that are geared toward your old profession (no matter how impressive they may be).
It’s a good idea to carefully read through posted job descriptions for wording or phrases to adopt as well as any skills and qualifications that match the recent courses you’ve taken and your relevant volunteering experiences. Be sure to highlight those skills and attributes on your résumé by giving them prominent placement at the top, in your profile and skills section.
An unfortunate reality of switching industries is encountering more job rejections than you’re used to. Though it’s disheartening, you need to remember the rejections relate only to your lack of relevant jobs and amount of experience in your new field. Don’t be deterred; the only way to land that first new job is to persist.
Try to be patient, and remember that when you’re starting a race well behind the competition, you simply need to put in a lot of effort to catch up and then get ahead. So, be proactive, build relationships with recruiters, and try to get as many early job applications as possible.
Though it may take some time, all you need is one interview to get a foot in the door; then make a good impression, and you’ll land the job that will set you on your way in your new industry.