Thankfully, work experience is only one of the factors that employers look for. The key to changing careers is rooted in your skills, personality, and willingness to learn.
Here are four steps you can take to make that career switch.
Craft a relevant CV
Crafting a CV for a career that you have no experience in relies on shifting the focus to your transferable skills, achievements, and value as an employee. Here are three tips to consider when writing your CV.
Include a CV objective
A CV objective is a statement which describes who you are, the type of role you are looking for, and how your skills and learning apply to that role. Your CV objective will be one paragraph long and appear at the beginning of your CV.
An experienced salesperson seeking a leadership role in the charity sector that provides the opportunity to use my extensive communication skills and fundraising know-how gained from years of voluntary charity work.
Your objective will change as your status changes, for instance, moving from a new graduate to an experienced executive, and it’s generally a good idea to cater your objective to each job that you apply for.
Customise your CV for each application
With each job you apply for, your CV should be customised so that it demonstrates your suitability. A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to serve any job search well.
Examine the job requirements, especially the skills needed to fulfil the role. What are the key elements of the job that you know you can already do? Consider whether the work experience entries on your CV reflect how your experience could transfer to the new role. If necessary, re-write your job history entries to show what a good fit for the job you are.
List your skills
It isn’t only your objective and work experience entries that should be customised for each job application; your list of skills should also be added to and re-ordered.
You may wish to list all your skills, for instance,
- data analysis
- customer service
- computer programming
and there’s no reasons why you shouldn’t. However, your list of skills should begin with the skills most relevant to the vacancy.
Concentrate on transferable skills
You’ve scoured the job advert and description, identified the required skills, and altered your CV to reflect how your own skills are a good match. Your CV isn’t the only place for mentioning your transferable skills though.
Most job applications will ask for a cover letter. This provides you with an additional opportunity to flag up how your skills are suitable for the role.
For more information, read What to put in your cover letter when you have no experience.
Finally, should you be invited to interview, make sure you can express how your skills are a great fit for the job, even though you may not necessarily have experience in that career.
Volunteering and internships
You may not have the experience now, but there’s no reason why you can’t gain that experience through volunteering and internships.
- If you want to work with children, you could volunteer at your local school or youth club.
- A move into merchant banking could be kickstarted by an internship for a bank or broker.
- Volunteering at a charity shop could develop skills suitable for working in retail but also express support for a cause that is close to your heart and provide a path into paid charity work.
Build a network
One way to break into a new career sector is to build a network of contacts who already work in that area. That network might be developed by attending physical events and meetings, but equally you can build a list of contacts through social media and other online groups.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. Use it to make connections with people in relevant industries and managers at companies you would like to work for. It can be an ideal way to keep up-to-date with current events in that sector too.
You might also find it useful to join online networking groups. These might be organised by professional bodies or local business groups, such as ACCA or your area’s Chamber of Commerce. Alternatively, search through any of the social media platforms you already use for relevant business groups.
A lack of experience is no reason to avoid switching careers. Yes, employers are interested in your work experience, but what is more important is that you are the right person for the job. That means the right skillset, the right motivation, and the right fit for the company culture.
For more information on getting your job search started read our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide.