Occasionally, you feel it’s time for a fresh start. Perhaps you’ve moved, grown tired of your current career, or seen few opportunities to advance. So, you decide take the big leap into a new career without experience.
It takes courage to leave the familiar to embark on something new and build your new job search strategy. But with preparation, research, hard work, and patience, it can be done. First, you have to be honest with yourself. It may not be easy or quick, especially if you’re aiming for a well-paying field.
- Get Used to the Idea of Starting Over. In your previous career, you have become accustomed to a level of stature, pay, and benefits. When you’re breaking into a new field, you’ll likely have to go back to the beginning and take a pay cut. You’ll have to prove yourself in a new job, but you will have more general experience, confidence, and self-awareness. Also, be prepared for rejection. Starting a brand-new career will take time so don’t get discouraged.
- Volunteer in the Field You’re Breaking into. Besides helping others, volunteering is a great way to get some unpaid experience in your new career to put on your resume. You can also determine how much you like the industry and which specialties appeal to you.
- Get Relevant Training. Thoroughly research your chosen field and list the expected and preferred education, degrees, and certifications. Without the experience, you’ll have to rely on education to get you in the door. Learn as much about the field and the careers as you can. Check out and read books from the library on the industry. Read articles, bogs, and newsletters. Frequent the relevant LinkedIn pages. Luckily these days getting a degree or certification doesn’t have to involve driving to college campuses in the middle of the day and sitting in classrooms for hours. Even if you have a full-time job and kids, you can take the training you need online no matter where in the world you’re living.
- Play Up Transferrable Skills and Experience. All those years in your old job were not a waste of time. There are some skills that are used frequently across many industries and careers. Management experience will be transferrable to nearly every field. Problem solving, time management, handling conflict, excellent communication, and mastery of all the commonly used software and applications are also transferrable to other jobs.
- Use Your Sphere of Influence to Find Jobs. Your non-traditional resume may get overlooked if you stick to the traditional job search methods like online applications. Talk to friends, family, acquaintances, and former colleagues and clients about your career switch and ask if they know anyone in the field or company. In marketing, personal referrals are more effective than traditional tactics, so it makes sense that a glowing recommendation from someone they know will go a long way to getting you that interview. Develop contacts in your chosen field and ask which skills, experience, and characteristics are most important.
- Rewrite Your Resume and Cover Letter. Your resume should be reorganized for your new job search and to include your new education and volunteering. Your cover letter will need to be rewritten to emphasize those transferrable skills and experience and explain your decision to switch careers. Express your enthusiasm for the industry and let the best parts of your personality shine through.
- Take Advantage of All the Resources. Research programs and resources that help people access and fund education and training. There’re programs available to unemployed or underemployed people, dislocated workers, and veterans and their spouses that provide tuition and job search assistance. Check out the Workforce Investment Act program, state worker retraining programs, and Post-9/11 GI Bill training programs.
- Be Smart with Your New Career Choice. It may be difficult to go from marketing project manager to doctor or lawyer, but starting a new career in the general fields of health care or law is more doable. It’s cheaper and quicker to get training as a:
- Legal Secretary
- Legal Transcriptionist
- Medical Office Manager
- Medical Transcriptionist
Starting a career in a new field when you don’t have the experience is challenging. Draft a plan, with checklists and a schedule, based on the suggestions above. Then acquire the skills and education to fill out your revised resume.