Switching job industries can seem overwhelming. Without previous job experience in the new field you’re interested in, it can seem like your options are limited. How can you populate a resume without past industry experience? How do you even gain experience to get a foot in the door? How do you tell an employer about the skills you already have?
In the modern workplace, switching jobs and even industries is more common than ever before. Use this article as a guide to bridge the gap between your old career and your new one.
Where to Find Jobs
Friends and family are a great place to start when looking for a job. These people know what you can do and are more likely to be willing to take a risk on you. Even if they aren’t able to hire you directly, they can put in a good word for you at their place of work, or may know someone else who has an opportunity for you. It never hurts to ask!
Nowadays, there are many modern ways to find jobs online. You can look at job boards like Indeed, use LinkedIn to network and promote yourself professionally, or have jobs come to you from platforms like tilr. The internet has truly revolutionized the way companies and workers can find each other – with all of the options, there is likely a job for every person and situation.
You can also take a more old fashioned approach. Put on your best business casual or professional outfit and hit the pavement. Go to local businesses nearby and check for “Help Wanted” signs outside. If there’s a particular place you think you might want to work at, but they aren’t advertising for open positions, don’t be afraid to go in and ask anyways. Businesses will often have applications on hand so that as soon as they have an opening, they will contact you. Even if they can’t help you in your job search right then, they will be impressed that you took the initiative. Just keep a good attitude and keep trying!
What Companies Look For in Entry-Level Workers
When switching industries, it’s likely that you’ll have to start at an entry level position. Fortunately, most employers aren’t looking for incredible technical skills when they offer entry-level work. What they really want is a hard-working employee that wants to come to work and learn the position. Having and displaying a growth mindset may be critical in the first stages of switching jobs.
Among the traits that most entry level employers look for, good communication skills, organization, and showing up on time are at the top of the list. These three skills are usually assessed in an interview. So think about what you want to say in the interview, come prepared with a resume, and make sure you are early.
How to Fill Your Resume
A resume is likely going to be your first contact with a company, so it is important to make a good first impression. The purpose of a resume is to get you into the interview. To do this, it is important to try to get inside the mind of the recruiter and how they assess resumes. Try to figure out from the job description, title, and company culture who it is they want to hire and what skills they need. That way you can tailor your resume to the jobs you apply to. Now, let’s write the resume.
You can find free resume templates to download online – try to pick something simple that you think will represent you well. It’s important that your resume looks professional and has good information. Most recruiters only spend around 7 seconds looking at a resume so choose an easy to read template and keep the information simple. Start with filling in your basic information: name, contact information, and education. You can include an objective or mission statement, but this is definitely not necessary. Next, if there is a section for skills on your template, decide what skills of yours you want to call out and rate yourself in these areas. Be honest with yourself, just don’t give yourself full marks on everything. There is a ton that can be said about writing your first resume, but the hardest part can be filling in the experience section.
If you have extensive job experience in another industry that should still show up on your resume. Even if you’re transitioning from industries as distant as manufacturing and sales many of the skills you learned will transfer. Did you have to complete repetitive tasks within a certain time frame? That matters just as much at a sales desk as on the assembly line floor. Highlight those activities and skills that overlap between what you have been doing and what you want to be doing.
You May Have More Experience than You Think
You may not have job experience in this area, but don’t dismiss the other experiences you’ve had. It doesn’t need to be a true 9-5 job to be on your resume or talked about in an interview. Odd jobs like babysitting, mowing neighborhood grass, and lifeguarding can also count as work experience. Volunteering is another relevant experience: mission trips, fundraising, and other volunteer activities. Hobbies can also build skills that someone would pay for. If you like to work with your hands, are very into fitness, or musical endeavors, it also can be a point of connection with potential employers as well as a demonstration of skills and work ethic.
Babysitting is a great example of this. While not a traditional job, babysitting demonstrates lots of marketable skills. It demonstrates being good with children, the ability to multitask, and show up on time consistently. Babysitting is an especially good experience because it shows the people they work for trust them with things as valuable as their children and home, which shows extreme responsibility.
Elaborate on all of your experiences in this way. Break down the skills you learned from this activity. By doing this you are building a base of transferable skills. Just because a job title doesn’t match up with the new industry you’re entering doesn’t mean the skills don’t match. There are even ways to get hired based on skills, not job titles. Record how long your experience lasted and what outputs you had. Then relate these things back in your resume to the skills employers are looking for that we talked about earlier.
Jobs You Can Get Today
The job hunt can be draining. First the search, then making and submitting a resume, and hoping for an interview, then getting one – even after all of that there will be times where you are rejected. There are other options that simplify the old process.
Alternatively, you can get your first real job experience today. There are some options you have that require a bit more initiative on your part, but you can get started today. This way when you go into your first job interview, and write that first resume, you’ve got some real work or business experience to call out. Let’s explore some of these options:
Gig work is a great place to get started. If you can drive, check out Uber, Grubhub, or Amazon Flex. These jobs allow you to work totally on your own schedule and gain skills like customer service, organization, and being on time.
Another option is to start your own micro business. Offer to mow your neighbor’s lawn, or advertise your services by putting up posters in your neighborhood. Alternatively you could become a dog walker. There are several apps like Wag! where you can sign up to walk dogs for money. These types of activities show a lot of motivation to future employers and you can make some good cash if you find business.
You can also consider selling items online through marketplaces like Etsy. If you have a talent for creating things this can be a great way to make some money and get experience in customer service and running your own small business.
The Big Picture
Take a moment to think about why you want to switch industries. A lot of this article has been about leveraging your past to get to the future you want, but the future is just as important. In your job interviews highlight your “Why” for making this change. If you can create a compelling picture as to why you want to work for this company over any other it can be a meaningful factor to getting hired. Keep your “Why” in mind to motivate you and show that you are ready to do what is necessary to achieve your vision.