Estimated reading time: 5 mins
When you are getting ready to change careers, or start your career journey, one of the main things that may be a sticking point is how you get experience in a new (to you) industry. IT might be one of the most frustrating things because almost all job ads will mention that they require experience.
If you look at it from an employer’s perspective, they want to be sure that you have what it takes to get the job done. However, it isn’t impossible to create your own experience that makes you a more favorable option.
Many people aren’t keen on internships because they often don’t pay as much as we’d like. But actually, an internship is the ideal way to get experience directly within the industry that you want to work in. There are many companies that now offer internships on a remote, part-time, or ad-hoc basis. So if you are able to complete work in good time, and arrange your own working hours well, then an internship might be exactly the right step for you.
Almost everything that we do is online. Which means you should be online too. We can use online spaces to show off our skills. If you happen to be a great writer (or even if you’re not), you can create a blog. While this might sound like you will be applying for writing work, you can actually dedicate the site to the industry you intend to work in. Creating a wealth of information and opinion. This demonstrates the ability to research, organize, and show proof of the interest you have in the industry.
If writing isn’t your thing, you can also create graphics, videos, gifs, and more. A podcast is easy to start and can have a huge supporting role in applications.
You know you can do the job, so you might need to show it off. When you are applying for positions, go the extra mile and create something to show your potential employers. If you are applying for a role without traditional experiences, say for a graphic design company, create a portfolio of work based on their client list and some extras. Show them what you can do. If you happen to be applying for a copywriter role, produce an article for the application, or some snappy taglines.
This might sound excessive but consider the number of applications there is for each job, and how many have experience to show. Show that you can do the job before you need to do the job.
So you probably already have a range of course qualifications in the industry you want to go into. That is great, but you can do a lot with the space between that qualification and landing the role of your dreams. Find courses that relate to the industry, and start tackling them. There are many online learning resources that offer free courses.
If you don’t want to take more courses, you can take the opportunity to listen to TEDTalks, find experts in the field, watch tutorials, and include some articles too. All of those things will begin to deepen your knowledge, so when it comes to having conversations with recruiters or employers, you have a vast knowledge pool to draw from.
There are a few things you can do here. One is to volunteer for a cause that you care about. It doesn’t have to be directly related to the industry that you want to work in, but many of the skills are likely transferable. Most charities and local organizations don’t always have the money to put into hiring staff to do the job. However, you can volunteer some of your free time to fulfill those roles. Volunteers are beyond measure for most causes.
If there aren’t any voluntary openings being advertised in those companies, get in touch, tell them what you can do, and how much time you have and see if you can bring them value – without them having to do the leg work of finding someone.
Your online spaces are where people are going to head to check out more about you. LinkedIn is now one of the biggest networking and media sites for career-based chat. As well as publishing content to your own website, take some time to create articles designed to provoke conversations in the industry.
The engagement that you get will increase your visibility, and you will find that you naturally begin to attract recruiters and companies in the industry.
Those contacts will become part of your networking strategy. While it probably isn’t the best idea to start cold-messaging people, there is no harm in introducing yourself and getting into conversations before naturally coming to the part where you talk about what you are looking for.
Going out on your own might be the perfect way to start building your portfolio. If you are currently in a job role elsewhere, it might be tricky to fit it in. However, the side-hustle is something that many do in order to make that career switch. Many people find that setting up some online profiles on Upwork, Fivver, Freelancer, and more can help them gain hands-on experience. Don’t be tempted to undercharge to get the work though, your skills are still of value, and you should try to keep that in mind.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is sending a standard cover letter and application to every recruiter. Instead, take the time to tailor everything you send. Include something that sparks your interest in the company, as well as everything you are capable of. This will show them that you have spent time researching the company, and are more likely to read your application with more interest.
Gaining experience in an industry that you haven’t previously worked in might seem impossible on face value. However, with some time and effort, you can create your own range of experience that will clearly show that you are capable of the job at hand, without working directly within a company in that industry.