Whether you’ve been working in your industry for a number of years or you just graduated college and you’re thinking to yourself, “I actually don’t want to do what I just got a degree in…” – Don’t panic.
We’re good at career changes and we’re here to help.
You see, one of the things that frustrated us about the current job market was seeing just how many “Entry Level Jobs” there were that required at least 3-5 years experience.
That one had us scratching our heads, too.
But there might be a few ways to help yourself wiggle your way into the career you’ve always wanted, even with seemingly no relevant experience to speak of.
Make a list of the skills you gained at your current job
Regardless of your feelings toward your current job, you’re bound to have gained a useful skill or two. Why not redeem those skills at a better-fitting, more fulfilling job?
Make a list of things you learned, experience you gained, and even the specific impacts you had on your company. You’ll need that for our next step.
Cross-reference that list with your interests and other experience
When measuring up your qualifications for a career change, don’t stop at your experience from previous work positions. Oftentimes hobbies, volunteer experience, or strides you’ve made in your own personal development can help you to fit into a role when your work experience is lacking.
Freelancing or starting a side-gig can also be a great way to gain experience in a field without having to land yourself an entry-level role. Do this well, and you could gain yourself some valuable experience as well as make connections that could set you up to get a job you really want in the future. You’ll also be showing off your grit and entrepreneurial spirit to prospective employers.
Find your niche
Now that you’ve got your list of specific skills and experiences you’ve gained, use your imagination and try to brainstorm the perfect job for you. If someone could tailor make a career based on your past experience and skills, what would that look like?
Now, if there’s a job out there that looks anything similar to what you dreamed up, go for it! If you believe you’d be the perfect fit based on your background, then you’re probably the best person to convince a hiring manager of the same thing.
Take a look at this New York Times article: “Their Approach to Career Changes? Find a Niche, and Fill It” In the article, they mention several people with different motivations for their career changes: those coming out of the military and needing to find work, successful business people wanting more balance in their life, and those who decided to create their own path when other doors had been shut.
Develop the skills you’ll need for your career change
Whether you’re planning to take the leap now or to do so in the future, take the opportunity now to develop the skills you’ll need for the job you want. Read books, watch webinars, and listen to podcasts in your free time. If there are conferences or networking events in your area, try showing up simply to mingle with people in your prospective field. Attending classes or even gaining certifications can really tell a hiring manager that you’re serious about your new career and you’re ready to learn
Overall, developing your skills, even while working full time, can only help to improve your chances of moving on to bigger and better things.
Again, if you can, try to attend events that have to do with the field you want to get into. Strike up conversations with different people and see what their jobs are like. What struggles do they face in their role, what does a typical day may look like, and what they really love about their job? Besides getting a good feel for whether or not a job in this space might be a good fit for you, you may be able to make some valuable connections down the line.
Also, try connecting with anyone you already know who works in the field you want to enter.
Make your argument: Your career change cover letter
When making a career change, you, yourself, are going to be your most compelling advocate. When writing your resume and cover letter, be sure it tells the story of who you are now, how you got here, and where you want to end up. Explain to your prospective employer how your skills make sense for the position you want and why you’d make a great fit over someone else.
Here is a cover letter template we created just for those needing to make a career change. Use it but be sure to make it your own, telling your own story and sharing why you would be a great fit for your dream job.
Let us know what you thought of the template as well as your career change experience in the comments below!