2012 was a year of change for many, particularly in the type of work people were seeking. While our country realized unemployment is at some of the highest rates since the Great Depression, many found themselves exploring more gainful new job opportunities while often struggling to parlay previous skills into these new types of work.
Like many, I, too, entertained the idea of changing my career focus, and one challenge I faced was a lack of relevant work experience. Here is some advice on how you can take the education and experience you already have and rewrite it so that you can apply it to a new career path.
1. Feature a career mission that leverages similar experience and education
If you are unable to show actual relevant work experience, creating a more robust career mission statement is a great way to tie together where you have been with where you would like to go next. For example, if you are looking to shift your career from working as a Data Entry Clerk to a Business Analyst, you may want to rewrite your data entry work experience in a way that emphasizes the information and industries you have been exposed to during your work in this field and accentuate how this has given you business analysis-type experience.
2. Leverage your education in your career mission
If you have acquired a degree or even participated in formal higher education that in any way ties into what you are looking to do, use your education in lieu of your experience to feature your deeper understanding of this field. While it does make sense to be honest where you lack experience, leveraging what you have learned can be a legitimate way to compensate for this.
3. Gain experience through volunteering and working for free
If you are unable to find a way to present the relative skills from either your past work experience or education that qualifies you to move into this new arena of work, a final and very powerful way to rewrite your experience is to actually go out and get it. Volunteering a limited amount of your time to work for someone who already has extensive expertise doing what you want to do can be a great way to gain experience quickly. Usually, you can also ask the person you are apprenticing with or even their clients to provide you with a recommendation in exchange for your free work.
4. Make sure your resume is formatted properly
Some industries have slightly different expectations for what a resume will look like and include. For example, in most cases, skills should be located towards the bottom of the resume, but that’s not the case for the IT industry. And resumes should be devoid of color or anything too fancy – unless you’re entering the graphic design industry. Find example resumes in your field to make sure you’re following the proper standards.
Many people will face an impasse in their career when they move from one type of work to another. While change might be what is in order at such a moment in your career, presenting yourself with the proper experience may be closer than you think. These techniques will hopefully help you translate your passion, vision and education into new real life opportunities.
About the Author: Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a professional resume writer. She’s written hundreds of resumes and cover letters in a wide range of fields. You can learn more on WeissRoessler.com.