Switching from one job in your current field to another in the same field is no big deal. But maybe you’re ready for a BIG change — from consultant to photographer, from accountant to chef, from small business employee to small business owner — and you want to get started on making your dreams happen.
But how do you frame a job search for a job you’ve never done before? Don’t freak out — though diving into a new field is intimidating, technology and connections are on your side. Think of it not as a 180 degree switch but as a shifting of your talents and skills to a new, better-fitting position.
- Highlight relevant skills.
You’re probably switching careers because you have skills you’re not using in your current position. Maybe you taught yourself HTML and built your own website totally from scratch, but all you do at work is answer phone calls and emails. Jodi Glickman suggests comparing yourself to the profiles and skills of people who have the job you want. While you don’t have the experience to put on a traditional resume, services like Smarterer allow you to validate your skills even if you’ve never used them in a job setting. And be sure to bring up those skills when you are…
- Networking, networking, networking!
We’ve talked about the importance of networking before, but when you don’t have work experience in your new field, it becomes even more crucial. Send messages on LinkedIn to people you think might have their finger on the pulse of your industry, and bring up the fact that you’re switching jobs with friends and acquaintances. Know your elevator pitch like the back of your hand. You might be surprised by who people know and how many opportunities can come out of random connections.
- Do your homework.
Research your future job like it’s a job in itself. Learn about the key players, ideas and up-and-comers in your dream industry, so that despite your lack of direct work experience you’ll still know what you’re talking about when you’re in for your interview.
- Figure out how to sell yourself.
Put it all together and think about how you can best present yourself to potential employers. You know you’re perfect for the job, but they’ll be worried when they see that you haven’t been working in the industry. Show them your skills and research, and most important of all, show them that what you were doing before really isn’t that different from what you’ll do for them.
Karen Amatangelo-Block wrote on Vault Careers about her experience changing jobs, and said it is important to emphasize similarities between what you’re currently doing and what you hope to do in the future.
“You must be able to articulate how this new role is not dissimilar from the work you have been doing—that you are not a non-traditional candidate and that you bring additional skills to the company that they need,” she said in the article.
Now get out there and start that new career!