Whether you’ve recently graduated or you’re looking to change career paths, getting a job without experience is challenging. If you don’t have any direct experience in your desired field, landing your first job can feel as difficult as climbing Mount Everest.
Fortunately, it is possible to get a job with no experience but it will take hard work and creativity on your part. Keep in mind, it’s unlikely you’ll secure your dream job right away. Instead, look for a position to help you gain relevant skills and experience as you prepare to climb the ladder to your dream job. Temper your expectations accordingly and the entire job search will go more smoothly for you.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
The importance of tailoring your resume to your desired position and highlighting transferable skills
How to change your mindset and expectations, putting you in a better place to secure a job in a new field
Many of the resources you can take advantage of to gain a leg up in your job search
Be Willing to Start Over
Be prepared mentally to start over with a new career, as entry-level positions are much easier to get than senior positions. While you may have the soft skills to pass over a junior role, it’s more likely you’ll be starting closer to the bottom of the corporate ladder.
Starting over means a lower salary, so you need to also be financially prepared to earn less than you had previously. Plan your finances accordingly by scaling back on your spending and building up your savings account. Having a financial cushion means you can search for jobs a little longer or accept your new dream job even if it doesn’t come with the desired pay right away.
Tailor Your Resume
Much like any other job you’ve applied for in the past, tailor your resume for the role and industry you’re applying for. This is especially important when you’re applying for a job where you don’t have direct experience because you need to link any relevant skills you do have to the role and industry in question.
Read through job postings and competency models from your new chosen field to pinpoint which soft, hard, and technical skills you already possess. Make a list of skills, experiences, and keywords that should stand out on your resume.
Do Your Research
Even though you’re new to an industry, there’s no reason to show up to an interview without any knowledge of the industry. Take time to learn everything you can such as the leading companies, the unique challenges the industry faces, and even what the regulatory environment is like.
Read books, listen to podcasts, read articles online, and chat with people who are already in the industry. There are countless ways to do your research, and it’s always advantageous to know more.
Pursue Formal Education
This is a critical step, but remember that a formal education doesn’t necessarily have to mean a college degree. There are other ways to acquire the credentials that you need outside of a university. While you can do plenty of informal research, formal education for the industry or role will look great on your resume and in interviews. Once you’ve determined the specific skills you need for the role you want, seek opportunities to acquire them.
Take courses online, classes through adult education programs, or obtain certifications from professional organizations. While you may have a lack of experience, you can offset that with training and know-how.
Think Outside the Box
A traditional entry-level role isn’t the only way to get started in a new career. Think outside the box by looking for volunteer positions in your desired industry. You’ll gain the first-hand experience you need along with making new connections, which can be invaluable in the future.
An internship is another great way to find your way into a new field. Whether an internship is paid or not, you’ll accrue experience you wouldn’t otherwise have. Good internship programs will include mentorship and a path to develop your skills. Plus, companies often consider hiring their interns after the internship is complete.
To find volunteer or internship positions, you may have to do a bit of legwork and ask around. These positions aren’t always posted online. Reach out to organizations you’re interested in working for and find out if they’re willing to take on an intern or volunteer.
Use All of Your Resources
If you’re a new graduate, your school probably has several resources for you to take advantage of. Talk to the career counsellor and check in with the placement office to see what services they offer. Their know-how can make all the difference for you.
If you’ve found yourself suddenly unemployed, check your state retraining programs or workforce development programs. They help job seekers find appropriate roles, along with resume services and interview coaching. These programs are meant to aggressively reduce unemployment rates, so leverage any help they offer.
Network, Network, Network!
You know the saying: it’s all about who you know. Build relationships in the local community of your industry and keep an ear to the ground for opportunities. Look for networking meetings and special events where you can introduce yourself to those more experienced in your field of choice.
Spend time networking online as well by joining niche Slack groups or Facebook groups. As you learn about your new industry, write blog posts and publish them on platforms like Medium or LinkedIn. You’re already researching so you might as well get additional benefits by writing about it.
As you go through the steps to secure a new position without direct experience, it’s important to set realistic expectations for how long it will take. Unless you’re very lucky, it could take weeks or even months to find your new position. You’re running a marathon, not a sprint, so plan accordingly.
Do’s & Don’ts
DO think creatively when it comes to writing your resume, building skills, and looking for an entry point into the industry. Landing a job without experience requires non-traditional methods.
DON’T overlook the resources available to you, like the library, your school placement service, and your existing network. Every bit of help you seek out gets you closer to your new career goals.
DO adjust your mindset. This job search may take longer than previous job searches, so come up with a detailed game plan and prepare your finances.
DON’T get discouraged. Remember the reasons you want to switch careers and keep yourself motivated. It’s a process that will pay off in the end.