You’ve finally decided that this is the year you’re going to get serious about landing a new job – congrats! You have an idea of what you would like to do next and you’re relatively excited about it, but there’s one giant hurdle standing in your way:you don’t have any experience.
Entering the job search can be intimidating, especially when you are hoping to transition into a new career path without relevant industry or work experience. However, there are 10 steps you can follow to up your game and reach your goals around career transition (and they’re not the least bit painful).
1. Get Really Clear On Your Goal
If you’re a regular reader, you know by now that there’s a simple trick to any career strategy: Goal Setting. If you’re not a regular, here is a post on achieving career goals that you might like. The first step is always knowing exactly what you are going after. This ensures that you won’t veer off track and can always be moving towards your target.
2. Get Really Clear On Your Relevant Positioning
Once you have set your goal, you’ll have to define your positioning. Not to be overlooked, this is probably the most important step of the whole strategy because as a career changer, you will be making a very clear break from your past experience. You need to be able to translate your past, irrelevant experience using language and a story that creates a clear, relevant transition into your future career path. This may require a bit of soul searching but it’s important that you know your story as it pertains to your target & the hiring manager’s goals if you are going to convince anyone you can do the job regardless of the career path less taken. Here are 5 resume hacks for creating relevant positioning if you’re not sure how.
3. Know Your Elevator Pitch
Once you have your positioning in place, you’ll need to know how to sell yourself over the phone or in person. Know your compelling transition story because it will come in handy when you meet people who can potentially help you make your transition. Put it on paper, practice it until it rolls off the tongue and voila, elevator pitch done!
4. Make Your Skills Relevant
Strong positioning & elevator pitch are more big picture summaries whereas your experience is the fine detail. After you are very clear on your positioning and pitch, you’ll need to do a deeper dive into all of your past experience in order to identify your transferable skills. Transferable skills will be your ticket to walking the walk once you get past the elevator pitch or initial meeting. Check out these examples of transferable skills for more insight. This fine detail works to support your transition story because it conveys that even though you may not have the right experience, you actually do have the right skills to change careers. The more you familiarize yourself with your relevant experience, the more confident you will be in interview or networking situations.
5. Make Your Linkedin Profile Relevant
Linkedin whether you like it or not, is a critical part of the job search. When trying to make a career change it’s important to translate your new target positioning as much as possible so that profile visitors understand what you are about (or trying to be about). If you’re not sure how to do this, you’ll want to check out this crash course in Linkedin profile optimization. Some obvious places to communicate relevant positioning are in the headline and summary, as well as within your current job experience. Start volunteering with organizations or associations within your target industry and list your volunteer role as your first position. This way, when people land on your profile the first thing they see is how you are currently relevant to your target, despite lacking years of experience. You can also beef up your endorsements in your target category and join groups.
Just a word of warning: This can be tricky if you are hoping to transition while currently employed as you don’t want your boss to see the new story unfold before his/her eyes. However, try to subtly tailor your profile as much as possible and as appropriate.
6. Make Your Resume Relevant
Once your online profile is relevant, head to your resume and do the same. Examine all of the transferable skills you hashed out in step 4 and start to create compelling bullets based on the most relevant skills to your target (not all of your bullets that you use on every single resume). If this is something you struggle with, you can always get professional support from one of our favorite resume writing services.
7. Get Some Outside Help (Not just a 2nd set of eyes)
This is a critical step but one that is all too often approached incorrectly. If you’re not a superstar writer or expert in your industry, find someone more knowledgeable to review your materials. This does not mean Joe Shmoe recruiter or cousin Betty. I’m talkin’ about someone with specific expertise around resume writing or hiring within your target industry. If you ask just anyone to review your resume they’ll likely scan for grammar but they won’t be tuned into what hiring managers actually look for, creating a huge missed opportunity for you.
8. Stay Accountable
Accountability is key in the job search, especially in the world of career transition because it’s likely to get discouraging along the way. Pinpoint a friend or colleague to keep you honest and lovingly call you out if you struggle with slipping into slacker mode.
HUGE! Become a networking machine. Don’t just connect to people online and hope for the best. Take it offline in the form of informational interviews or volunteer work. Every in-person encounter you have with a new contact in your space is a foundation for a relationship that could turn into a winning referral. Check out these simple ways to network if you’re feeling a little rusty.
10. Become Your New Brand Inside and Out
Last but certainly not least: transform into your brand. Your positioning and supporting materials will help you to start feeling comfortable in your new skin as you work to transition but don’t stop there. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Stay on top of industry and professional trends. Join relevant associations. Share content. Start conversations in Linkedin groups or answer questions on Quora. Be your new career path and you will eventually become it. You’ll be able to get some great ideas of how to brand yourself with this instructional Linkedin video course we love!