Often times, moving into a new industry seems nearly impossible, especially when you compare the job description and your resume and realize you don’t have experience in the desired field. Ultimately, you know you have the passion and the willingness to succeed, someone just needs to give you a chance.
It’s a catch 22.
You can’t get the job without experience, but you can’t get experience without the job.
The good news is that if you possess passion for the profession, enthusiasm for the role, and a genuine willingness to learn, you have a chance of getting your foot in the door. Know that this will not be an easy task. You will have to be strategic and intentional with how you spend your time and market your skills. With a combination of networking, social media, and incorporating some of the strategies below, you can increase your chances of landing that dream role in a new industry.
Volunteering is a great way to gain hands-on experience and determine if you actually enjoy this new kind of work. The level of involvement you will receive will vary on the company and the role. But regardless, any experience obtained can be added to your resume and serve as key points in an interview.
Internships can help you gain on-the-job experience, exposure to different environments, and a chance to network and build relationships that could evolve into full-time opportunities. Within this move, you must be comfortable taking an entry-level position or a pay cut. Postgraduate internships aren’t as common as college internships, but they are increasingly becoming the norm.
It is important that you understand the skills and education requirements for your desired role so that you can begin to make yourself marketable in that industry. Consider obtaining a certification or taking an online course that will teach you a marketable skill or program. That one extra skill could be the catalyst to get your foot in the door, or at least set you apart from other applicants who have your same background. Many colleges offer summer/evening courses, and you can also find many courses and complete certifications online.
Sometimes breaking into a new industry is not based on your resume, but rather focused on experience. With this approach, you show them better than you can tell them. Start a new blog, conduct research, test a new market strategy for a company’s product, and more. If you come to the table with proof of your value, skills and expertise, there is no way you won’t stand out.
Creativity is key. You can find inspiration in the public relations applicant who wrote a press release about herself in lieu of a cover letter. Or maybe you’ll be motivated by the marketing applicant who created a Snapchat filter that read “Hire Me” with his name and contact information so all internal employees would see his info when they used Snapchat in the building. Use these unique approaches to get your creative wheels turning.
Yes, you want a potential employer to give you a chance, but ultimately what can you do for them? It is important that you do not come to the table simply seeking an opportunity, but instead selling yourself and illustrating your true value. Have you ever considered asking an employer if you can simply help? Try this: What would you do to grow your business if you had an extra day? Or if you can hire some extra help today to do a delegated task that is a true time sucker, what would it be? Offer to do a project for free. I like to think of this as the try-before-you-buy approach. Once you “wow” them with your performance, you could open new doors and opportunities.
Use your network
Personal recommendations speak volumes beyond the realm of a traditional resume. When a resume doesn’t look like the typical resume for the desired field, it can be easily pushed aside. Most recruiters and hiring managers have a clear idea of the experience they want candidates to possess. A company employee singing your praises and explaining why you would be the perfect fit could be the perfect addition to set your resume apart. Tap into your network- your family members, friends, former colleagues, mentors, etc.— to help you find a position.
Reframe your existing experience
Regardless of your current position or experience, you have gained some transferable skills along the way that could possibly be applied to this new role. Though the work streams may not be completely aligned, your existing experience is still valuable. Let’s take me for example. When I wanted to break into the healthcare industry (with no formal healthcare recruiting experience), I used my other professional recruiting experience to sell myself for the role. I also emphasized the nursing courses I completed in undergrad to tell the story of how my education, coupled with my other recruiting jobs, made me the perfect fit for the role. Let’s just say I got the job. More than likely, you have the skills. You just have to clearly and effectively articulate them.
Hopefully these strategies can help you gain confidence and establish a game plan to acquire additional experience in your desired field. Whichever strategies you choose, move forward in your job search knowing it is possible. It will take a little bit of creativity, but sky is the limit. Be persistent and continue to make yourself marketable. You’ll be surprised how many doors will open for you.
Want a personalized strategy? Book a consultation and let’s set you up with a plan.