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How to Land a Job in an Industry Where You Have No Experience

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Kicking this week off with another guest post after you seemed to love Lauryn’s advice on Turning Your Passion into a Career. With never-ending questions on building a business, switching careers, and figuring out your passion in the Private FB Group, I know I need to get my ass in gear with more of this content. At the same time, I don’t have the answers or experience to support every single question.

So, I thought I’d bring in my Content Manager, Chelsea Becker, to guest write this week. She’s successfully switched career paths twice to get where she’s at now, in what she calls her ‘dream career’.  If you’re currently reevaluating life and thinking ‘WTF do I want to do with my life?’, I think you’ll appreciate it. Let me know if you’re into this type of post!

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Hey guys! I’m Chelsea and like Sivan said, I help her and other clients manage their content via my editorial company. Coming out of college, though, I was a hot mess with zero idea for my future. I graduated with a teaching credential and had no idea what I wanted to do – other than NOT teach. I also didn’t want to return to my hometown to live with my parents. I was determined to support myself and be happy with my career. And I was not about to settle based on what my diploma said.

I won’t pretend that this happened overnight but my plan did eventually lead me to two dream careers: working at a sports website in my 20’s (which I loved but eventually grew bored of) and again pivoting to start my company focused on fashion and lifestyle brands (where I think I’ll be forever). So how did I enter my dream industry 2x with no related work or college experience? By following these 6 steps…

Ask yourself what you like to do in your free time

After a year of nannying after graduation, I knew I needed to get my shit together and figure out a career. While complaining yet again to a friend about my unclear future, she simply asked, ‘Well what do you like to do in your spare time? Why don’t you do that for a living?’. It was such an obvious question yet one I’d NEVER heard about in a college class or while prepping for my future. For some reason, pairing what you like to do and what you will do nearly every day of your life doesn’t always mesh in our current culture. But in the words of Drake, YOLO. Why are you wasting your life (and 40 hours a week EVERY week) on something you’re not into?

While you might already know your *dream career*, ask yourself the following questions to start narrowing down a more fitting career path:

+ What do you like to do in your free time? List everything out. You honestly never know what might turn into your career!

+ What skills do you have or want to build upon? Write out what you’re good at and what you would like to be good at.

+ What do you like/hate about your current job? No job is perfect but I guarantee you can find one with more tasks you like vs. dislike.

+ What hobbies or projects motivate you the most? You’re going to need this motivation to get through the process of changing careers so think about this for a while.

+ What career would you be interested in if money wasn’t involved? More money can always be made, even in a hobby-turned-passion.

Find experience

This is where the work starts. And by work, I mean a second job or building experience in your free time.

Before I started applying to companies in the sports industry, I knew I needed experience. They were never going to hire an inexperienced nanny, and especially not an inexperienced female. I started a blog that taught females about sports in a basic-bitch-kinda-way. It was not only physical proof of my skills in that industry but it was a great test to see if my hobby was something that translated well into work. It also showed my personality and creative side.

After nannying-by-day and blogging-by-night for 6+ months, I applied for an internship at Bleacher Report (a sports company) and got it! I was one of the first females ever hired and my manager said that my passion and unique view on the blog are what stood out. Eventually, I moved into a full-time role, sitting next to guys who had gone to college for Sports Media or Journalism at schools that cost 10x what my state school did. Once again, the experience and hard work I built mattered, not my resume.

When it came to switching the focus of my career from sports to lifestyle brands, I did the same thing. I created a portfolio of new blog posts and was able to share some of the projects that somewhat translated…all while working full-time. I also built a website and Pinterest board to show that I had a good eye since it was part of my hopeful job. Eventually, I had enough experience to start pitching bigger clients like Sivan!

Whether it’s starting a blog (without needing to share it or make it public), taking a class, building a portfolio, attending conferences, learning a new skill, etc., make your own experience.

Stand out

Instead of hiding the fact that you don’t have a college degree to support the job, let it be what sets you apart. Noting that you hustled on the side to pursue this passion and created your own experience might be what the employer is looking for in their next hire. It shows that you think outside of the box, are a problem solver, and are motivated by success – all things people want in an employee.

Give before you ask

I began my sports career as an intern and an unpaid blogger before that, and I started my editorial company with lower-than-market rates. People respect when you are giving and working hard before you ask or request more from them. Once you gain that respect and experience, you can start asking for more (money, responsibility, advice, etc).

Find a mentor in the space

Heading into new territory can be scary, I get it. Finding a mentor to offer advice (read: NOT hold your hand!) can be helpful. It never hurts to DM or email someone you respect in the field you’re interested in. That’s not to say you’ll get a response and that they owe you anything, but it can’t hurt to try! I would suggest trying to find someone on more of a micro-level of success, not the biggest person in that field. Search LinkedIn for jobs and keywords that excite you as that’s a great place to start with finding a mentor or even a type of job.

And don’t forget the tip above – offer to help your potential mentor on a project and to learn along the way vs. throwing out 20 questions expecting them to drop what they’re doing to answer. Also, never ask them something you can quickly Google.

Show problems and how you can fix them

When I first reached out to Sivan, I pointed out a few areas of improvement – and how I could help – within her content. I knew she received hundreds of emails and requests like this a day, so I created a very personal yet specific email that was quick to read but also felt catered to her.

Instead of sending a mass email pointing out all the amazing things about yourself, look for areas that the company or person may need your specific skillset. Do this in a respectful way and this extra effort will go a long way. Maybe they don’t need you for that issue at the moment but I guarantee you’ll at least cross their mind when it’s time to handle.

Funny enough, when I made my first hire at my company, it was through her emailing me – not a job posting. I wasn’t hiring but her email was compelling enough to make me consider…and then hire her. She had built relevant experience with her personal blog and pointed out specific ways she could assist me. She’s still on my team to this day and was able to quit her corporate job to work in this industry full-time.

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On top of all of this, I work really hard, and I worked even harder in the beginning. Switching careers isn’t easy; it’s not for someone who wants to ‘get by’ or have something handed to them. It’s going to take dedication, sacrificing weekends and free time, and for sure some breakdowns, but I will say, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Let me know if you have any specific questions in the comments and we’ll figure out a way to address them.

xx, Chelsea

 

 

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