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How can I change my career with no experience?

If you're feeling unsatisfied with your current career path, it might be time for a career change. However, a switch can be daunting if you don't have any experience in the new industry. In this article, we cover reasons for swapping to a new career and how to do so with no experience.

Reasons for changing to a new career (without previous experience)

In order to convince employers that you're a right fit for the job despite a lack of experience, you need to have a valid reason for wanting to change your career. If your prospective employer thinks you're trying to change careers on a whim, you may lose credibility.

Here are a few common reasons for a career change:

  • You were steered into your current career
  • The new career allows you to follow your passion
  • You don't like your current work environment, leadership, or values
  • Other careers seem more appealing
  • You want a more challenging career
  • The new career provides better pay or opportunities
  • You want to make better use of your skills

How to change careers with no experience

Now that you've nailed down your reason for changing your career, follow these five steps to best prepare yourself for a career change with no experience:

1.Use keywords throughout your job application

Keywords are phrases or words that describe specific attributes, such as “passionate,” and “hard-working.” An effective way to capture the employer's attention and show that you're a great fit for the role is to identify these keywords in the job description and add them to your application.

Companies often run CVs through application tracking systems (ATS) that scan for specific keywords and discard applications that don't seem relevant to the role. As you're making a career change, your previous experiences won't relate to the job you're applying for, so including these keywords in your application will help it get past the ATS.

If you're struggling to identify keywords from the job description, you can also find them by examining other job descriptions relating to your desired job and studying the company's website. Including keywords from the website also shows that you've done research about the company which conveys your dedication.

2.Use a skills-based CV

Using a skills-based CV highlights your skillset rather than work experience which can help you show employers how your skills will transfer to the new role – as opposed to the most-used chronological CV which emphasises work experiences.

Your skills section should be placed near the top of the page to draw more attention, while your work experience section is at the bottom. Similar to how you'd write your work experience section, choose three to six skills relevant to the role you're applying for and include a few bullet points for each explaining how you attained and honed these skills.

Add a CV objective of two to three sentences above your skills section to explain why you're changing careers, your career goals, and why you're the best person for the job. The CV objective will help the employer understand your CV choice and your interests.

3.Use your cover letter to highlight your personality

Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to share your personality because your CV already covers your skills, education, and experience. If you're unsure where to start, look through some cover letter examples to help you create a compelling story that conveys your desire for a career change.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group stated on LinkedIn that “The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

To make sure that your personality is a good fit with the company, take the time to research the company's website, job description, and social media accounts. Note down the language and tone used, the benefits, and other information that gives you insight into the company culture. If there's a page on the company's website about their culture, that's an even more accurate resource.

For example, if the company offers fun benefits such as gamifying the work experience, or if they post jokes and puns on their social media, you know that they favour a casual setting. Writing an overly formal business-like cover letter would therefore not match the company culture.

Keep in mind that you still need to include reasons for choosing a career change and how you plan to contribute to the company's needs despite not having specific experience.

4.Gain relevant experience

If you're struggling to make the career swap because of a lack of experience, you can gain relevant experience for the job you're applying for by volunteering, doing your own research, or taking classes during your free time.

Offering your unpaid services to companies in your desired field shows determination and may help convince them to work with you. Not only will you gain experience and skills, but if you impress the right people, you might also be able to land a permanent job!

You can be creative when doing your own research. This can include starting a photography Instagram account if your desired field is social media. This can also include searching online for writing competitions if you're trying to get into a writing role. At this stage, any relevant experience is a good experience.

If the job you want requires a qualification, taking classes will show your interest and help supplement part of the qualification. Many online courses offer certification and in-depth training.

5.Join relevant career groups and learn from professionals

When trying to change careers, it's important to build contacts and join career groups that you can learn from. A great place to find contacts and groups is LinkedIn. As LinkedIn is a platform to share knowledge and build connections, you'll also find a wealth of information such as job hunting tips while looking through relevant posts.

Once you find a few relevant contacts, craft a personalised message introducing yourself and requesting a connection to learn more about what they do. Insight from these professionals about the field can help you decide if you want to follow through with the career change and help you tailor your job application to better suit the role.

The contacts you build and groups you join might provide you with new opportunities. These can range from access to relevant job postings, classes to take part in, webinars or even referrals.

Author: Chloe Chioy

Chloe Chioy is a Staff Writer and Digital Marketing Coordinator at Resume Genius and CV Genius. Her job advice has been featured on career platforms like Zapier and CharityJob, as well as on the BBC.

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