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5 steps to changing careers with no experience

By Katie Quirk

It can seem unreasonable that we are expected to indicate and choose a career path - or at least the general trajectory of our future ambitions and preferred industry of employment - when we are merely coming out of high school at the tender age of 17 or 18.

For some, those initial career visions transpire in the way that they anticipate, and they manage to find fulfillment and satisfaction in their original career decisions.

However, for many, time, maturity and matters of circumstance mean they may find themselves wanting to pivot careers down the track.

And after spending years studying and then graduating with a focus on a particular area of expertise, it might understandably feel as if you are trapped in your designated industry.

But hope does not need to be lost - in this article, we look at steps that you can take towards changing your career with no experience.

Consider learning online

Online courses in Australia, like the ones offered by Upskilled, provide an opportunity to undertake online study in a flexible, well-supported environment. Learning online is often more easily balanced with existing work-life commitments and can open doors into career pathways you may not have previously considered. 

The thought of going “back to school” can be overwhelming in the context of the investment of time and energy required however, unlike traditional university or TAFE structures, online learning is often more self-paced and can be undertaken as it best suits you.

Lead with your story, not your history

smiling man looking at camera

The journey you have taken (i.e. where you’ve come from) is often undervalued and seen as inferior to the years you’ve clocked up in a particular role or industry (i.e. what you know).

While on-paper experience is highly appreciated, it is just as important for most employers that the candidate they are looking to hire has the personality and cultural fit that will complement and bring added value to their team.

For example, Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) has always prioritised hiring the person, not the portfolio, saying “the first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.”

As a career changer, you already have a great story to tell and build a narrative upon.

You are obviously ambitious, driven, unintimidated by change or challenges and are ready to push outside your comfort zone; these are all extremely valuable qualities in an employee.

When you are drafting your story, the following questions can be helpful to consider:
  • Where have you come from?
  • What (positive) elements have brought you to this point in your life?
  • What is the one most powerful reason you have for moving into this new field?
  • What are you working on to make a shift?
  • What do you have to offer, even without direct experience of your new industry?
  • What do people come to you for help with (where do your natural skills lie)?

Pursue energy instead of passion

Often, it’s drilled into us from an impressionable age to “find your passion” and pursue that as a means to a career end.

However, it can be argued that working towards a passion can set lofty, unrealistic expectations and lead to people missing out on endeavours that better energise their creativity and interests.

There are many things one can be passionate about, but sometimes chasing those passions professionally are not conducive to finding satisfaction or success as a result.

By identifying activities that energise and inspire you, it can help point you in the right direction towards discovering a career that you can really bring your best to, formal experience or not.

Upgrade your resume

woman typing on laptop

This step might seem like a common sense based one but there are many job seekers and career changers who underestimate the power of building a resume that focuses on their skills, rather than one that just lists a record of professional positions and experiences.

Often referred to as a functional or skill-based resume, this document format brings your employable skills front and centre; after providing a concise personal statement or summary, put your energy and focus into tangible results by leveraging them as substantial evidence of your past achievements.

When employers are receiving dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes and applications, it is imperative that you are more than just a list of qualifications and former positions held.

Highlight traits relevant to the role

Categorically different from “skills” or “experience”, traits are highly transferable across different industries.

When considering changing careers, it is important to draw parallels between your innate strengths and the required aptitude for a specific role.

For instance, demonstrating you are a highly analytical thinker, an exceptional listener, unquestionably resilient and a solid people-person through referencing previous accolades and past wins can help to fill gaps and show you have the capacity and ability to learn, adapt and succeed across various sectors. 

You may surprise yourself when you sit down and start thinking about your key traits and see how extensive and lengthy that list is!

How learning online can help with a career change

A study from preeminent research and analyst firm, Brandon Hall Group, found that learning online consumes 40% to 60% less time than learning the same thing in a traditional classroom.

So how can online study help with a career change?
  1. Saves time - we detailed this above but to reiterate, learning online is self-paced, versatile and flexible. You can generally build classes and courses to suit your own personal circumstance rather than having to invest in the one size fits all, cookie-cutter approach offered at other institutions
  2. Affordable and focused on teaching job-centric skills - rather than putting all its eggs in the “educational qualifications” basket, online learning places more emphasis on building and nurturing skills relevant to specific industries rather than generalising across entire sectors
  3. Engaged and relevant content - e-learning can adapt to syllabus updates and technology advancements in real-time ensuring the information you are consuming is up to date, pertinent and applicable to your studies and career aspirations
Upskilled offers a wide range of online courses in established and emerging industries, from Cyber Security to Counselling and more. Start your upskilling journey by chatting to an education consultant or enquiring through the contact form.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.