How to start a new career without experience
After more than a year of working from home and managing Zoom meetings while juggling family time, many employees are ready to start a new career. In fact, Prudential Financial Pulse of the American Worker Survey states that one in four employees is considering retraining. Another Harris Poll study found that the majority (52%) of American workers plan to change jobs this year, and up to 44% have actual plans in place to take the plunge.
Make a career transition always scares. But it’s easier in this market because the demand for talent is incredibly high. If you want to start a new career but do not have any experience in the field, it can be done. You just need focus, drive, preparation, and motivation.
Create a compelling story
To explain to potential employers why you are pursuing a different direction, create a story that illustrates your desire to make the transition to a new career. When writing this story, emphasize your passion for the job and your willingness to take risks to explore the new path. You should also find ways to showcase your transferable skills. While some of your past experience may not be industry specific, it provides a solid foundation for your new career. Also include the reasons why you made the change and how you can contribute to the needs of the organization even if you don’t have specific industry experience.
Find your new career
It’s a big mistake to change jobs without doing your research first. One approach is to look for an inexpensive introductory course on Coursera, Udemy, or Lynda.com. If you decide to go further, then you can turn to more extensive programs. Join Facebook groups that have a specific business goal. First introduce yourself, then watch for a moment. When you’re ready, start contributing and find people you can contact for informational interviews. You can also learn a lot by reading industry specific books and blogs as well as listening to podcasts related to your new career. Of course, there’s no substitute for talking to people on the ground. Network on LinkedIn and talk to at least ten people. This will give you a good perspective and allow you to notice consistent patterns in their responses.
Try your new career
Transitioning domains is a commitment, so you want to make sure you test your new career before you take the plunge. A great way is to volunteer or follow someone. Take a vacation or a sick day and follow someone to get a feel for daily activities. If your field is creative, such as painting or writing, you might consider taking a few days off to attend a seminar or workshop. Depending on the career, freelance or consulting is another option. It allows you to gain valuable experience while getting to know your new job first-hand. If you like it, it will be that much easier to make the transition.
Consider innovative approaches
A growing number of companies and organizations recognize that CVs do not accurately reflect the personality of the candidate. This is why more and more story-based approaches are emerging. Consider creating a short YouTube video to introduce yourself and why you would be a good candidate. Another idea is to create a personal website to tell your story. A job applicant, Andrew Horner, even created a “reverse job application” website encouraging potential employers to apply to be her employer! He received several dozen applications from large companies and, after about two weeks, accepted a job offer.
Target open-minded businesses
Although every worker has transferable skills, employers look for certain skills more than others. Some of them include problem solving, leadership, and adaptability. Also look for companies that value passion and transferable skills over specific experience. Take the Virgin Group, for example. Richard branson believes in hiring for personality and fit first and foremost. “I never judge people on their education and qualifications,” Branson says. The first thing we look for in Virgin when hiring new staff is personality, which always trumps intelligence from books or specific job skills – the latter can be learned.
Starting a new career without experience will take time and probably won’t be easy. But if you follow these strategies, it is definitely possible.