Almost everyone has one- an untapped career path they’ve always thought about. It has more than often felt out of reach, impossible, or an unattainable dream. Is it moving from a labour job to a desk job? Or on the other hand, is it cracking the valuable practical experience needed to move into the area you are qualified in?
With little or no experience in a new area, it is very difficult to know where to start. I am going to show you how you can build up your experience within your desired sector, and some steps on how you can start to transition into your new career.
- Scour your network – think of all areas of your life for contacts who may work within your desired sector – family, social, friends, clubs. The person may be a second degree contact, whom you can be introduced to. It helps to write these down, and even work on it over a few days as people come to mind. LinkedIn can be useful source of information, not forgetting that building a network is an ongoing process throughout your career and personal life. This scouring process is designed for you to find someone you may be able to have an informal coffee meeting with, to assist in making headway into understanding their sector, and ask how they started out and what skills they would be looking for when hiring
- Print out a job advertisement for a role that is of interest to you – keep it within realistic terms, not focusing on the Marketing Manager role, if you’re only just transitioning into Marketing. Decipher it, look at what the employer REALLY wants, and underline it. Here is an example:
‘Bringing your passion for Marketing will allow you to grow your career with us. As the successful candidate you will have excellent time management skills, be process driven and be self-motivated. You will have 1 – 2 years’ experience in a similar role, previous experience in the Property sectors (highly regarded), relevant degree or diploma in relevant field (i.e. Marketing), strong communication skills and the ability to manage internal & external stakeholders. You will have the ability to work within a busy team environmentand a track record of multitasking and managing multiple priorities, be proficient in Adobe Creative suite and website CMA and cloud based marketing platforms and have great Microsoft Office + Project Skills’
These are the points that the employer is anticipating you will address in your application. If for example, Adobe Creative is not something you are familiar with, do your research and find out how it works. Be familiar with the programs they are asking for, even if it means you use them to work on your own material in your own time, to gain further knowledge.
In regards to qualifications, if time for retraining has been a problem in the past, there are now an unlimited amount of certificates, short courses and other qualifications that can be taken online.
- Be sure to leverage the experience you already hold, such as ‘time management skills’ and ‘working within a busy team’. These are valuable, transferable soft skills that shouldn’t be overlooked when making an impact
- Join or subscribe to relevant industry groups or associations. This might be via their company website, or through LinkedIn ‘Groups’. Take time to read back through articles and comment, getting a feel for the content. You may even feel compelled to contribute, once you get comfortable with the group’s dynamic
- Put your new learnings into practice. If you are able to afford a small amount of time, websites like www.goodcompany.com.au offer volunteer roles that may be a once off or ongoing with various businesses. Often once you have been able to practice your new skill set, confidence grows quickly, and you also gain valuable experience to talk about in interviews.
- Think 6 months ahead. Set yourself small and achievable goals to move towards where you picture yourself to be. It might be committing to a webinar or podcast regularly, making a new contact with your chosen industry, or attending an event where you can go as an ‘industry member’ (or student member). Every step you take, you will get you closer to becoming known in this new area. I like to think of it as building blocks, one by one.
- Accept that even if you are established in your existing work life, you are a new member to your new sector. You may not be offered your ‘dream job’ straight away. However, when your first opportunity does arise, feel proud of what you have done to achieve the transition, and keep building those blocks towards the next goal.
Melinda Weston is a Career Transition and Outplacement Coach based in Melbourne CBD. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org