It can be exhausting to read article after article, listen to podcast after podcast, and watch TikTok after TikTok telling you that it’s time to live your dream life. It’s exhausting, because yes, of course we want to live our dream life. The question that is often overlooked is “how”? When it comes to your career, this question becomes even harder to answer. When you need to completely change courses to land your dream job, where do you even begin?
Sometimes landing a job you don’t have experience for isn’t as hard as it may seem when you first decide to take a hard left turn in your career—you’ll just have to be a little bit creative in how you approach your job hunt. I’m not going to lie to you, this won’t be easy, but it is possible, and it all starts with defining your new personal brand.
So, if you’re looking to switch things up and have no clue where to begin, consider this your personal guide. Here’s our four-step strategy for landing a job you have no experience for:
1. Figure Out Your Brand
First thing’s first. Let’s tackle one of the scariest questions we’ll ever encounter throughout our lives: what is it that you want to do? As you look to shift from what you are currently doing to something new, I encourage you to shift your question from “what do I want to do?” to “what do I want to do next?” Less scary, right?
Focus on what is lighting you up NOW. What jobs look interesting based on what you learned at your current job NOW? What do you want to try NOW? You can always change this later. Remember: You can always try something new.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to do next, it’s time to get specific about how you want to portray yourself. It’s time to change your personal brand.
When nailing down your brand, I always suggest focusing on one to three identifying words or phrases. For example “marketing director and writer” or “digital strategist” or “event planner & social media marketer”. It’s important to focus on what you want to brand yourself as and adjust as needed for the specific jobs you are going for. This brand should show up prominently in your resume, your LinkedIn, your social media bios, and any other portfolios or items that will be given to a future employer.
If you feel lost on the quest to define your brand and who you are becoming in your career, research jobs in the field you’re looking at or interested in. What are the skill sets needed? What are specific jobs that seem prominent?
Once you’ve identified your brand (again — this can change in time!), it’s time to build it.
2. Build Your Brand
The world is competitive, and while it’s certainly possible to secure a job in a new industry or expertise, it is not easy. Once you’ve identified what types of jobs there are out there for you, it’s time to build the experience and expertise around it — it’s time to build your brand!
This is the fun part. Knowing the brand you want to go after, get to work on creating your cohesive look and feel. Depending on the industry you are looking to break into, it’s time to ensure you have pieces in place so that when you go to apply for jobs or opportunities present themself — you are ready. Components of your brand to think about include:
- Tagline or brand (this can be the 1-3 words to describe you, or a totally new tagline that encompasses your philosophy such as “passionate & authentic marketing”)
- Color scheme (to apply to all of these components!)
- Business cards (yes — I still love these!)
- A solid LinkedIn profile
- Social media profiles (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, even TikTok depending on the industry you’re going into!)
This can seem overwhelming, but have no fear. There are many online tools that help you create a logo, and platforms for building websites that make it simple (you don’t have to be a developer to have an online presence!). The key here is to pick what seems important to the industry or job you’re going after, for example maybe you NEED a good resume and portfolio but social media isn’t as important, and perfect those aspects. You don’t need to have it all to start, just ensure what you do have is cohesive and tells a story of who you are and who you are becoming!
3. Build Your Portfolio
Now that you’ve secured the components of your brand, it’s time to actually build out the experiences needed to show that you can back up what you say you can do.
To start, think about anything you’ve done in your life (and I mean anything) that could be applied to the new job you’re applying for. Maybe you handled managing money at a store in college and that could be applied to managing the budget for an event you want to plan. The opportunities are endless if you learn to connect the dots on your past experiences and tie them to your new ones. Review the LinkedIn profiles of those in your dream job, and check out the job descriptions or requirements where you are applying to get inspired.
Once you’ve scoured through your own personal experiences, it’s time to cultivate and build the skill sets that you may be lacking if you’re going into something entirely new. Check out online courses or certificates that may be helpful for your next role or industry. Practice skills and read books and articles on your own time that will get you to where you want to go (bonus points if you start posting relevant articles and tips you learn on your social media profiles!).
Focus on what is lighting you up NOW. What jobs look interesting based on what you learned at your current job NOW? What do you want to try NOW? You can always change this later. Remember: you can always try something new.
On top of taking the time to further your education, it is often necessary to create your own opportunities that will build the experience you need in order to secure a new job. Outside of your other obligations, start reaching out to small businesses or non-profit organizations that may need help in the area you’re trying to go! Maybe a local boutique needs a grand opening planned or a better social media presence, maybe a local dance studio needs someone to manage their books. I guarantee there is opportunity in your community to volunteer your time and cultivate your skill set. All of a sudden, you’re a “social media coordinator” for a retail boutique. All it requires is taking the time and having the courage to ask for what you want and need.
I call this, “start to actually make it, until you don’t have to fake it.” On top of building the brand and the skills, put yourself out there into the world and get real life experience that you can put onto your resume and your portfolio.
So, you may be asking, “well what if I don’t have any options or opportunities like this?”
There’s another thing you can do. You can actually create hypothetical scenarios and case studies to put onto your website or portfolio. Dream up the perfect marketing plan you’d be tasked with writing at your next job, or the event you’ll be planning at the next place you applied. Put together a case study of how you tackled the “project” and what the outcome was. This shows the employer that you took the time to prepare, you know how to take a project to completion, and gives a look at how you critically and creatively think or would tackle an applicable scenario.
4. Find a Mentor
Last but not least, find a mentor or someone you can go to that has worked in or is working in the industry you are going after. These individuals can offer you advice on your brand, help you with your resume, and connect you to individuals that may be able to help you get to where you’d like to go. Often, people LOVE to help others that may be at the beginning of their quest. So don’t be afraid to ask!
The only option you have with going for something you want is to try. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, put yourself out there, and take the time to do the work it takes to back it up. Remember, the time will pass anyway, so may as well use it going toward your dreams.