Our Best Tips For Starting A Brand New Career With No Experience

If you've been daydreaming about a change of scenery, you're not alone. According to a poll led by Monster, 96% of American workers are considering hopping to another job in 2023 — which is somewhat ironic considering it's the year of the rabbit. In addition to all the existing workers shifting positions, there are likely to be over four million college graduates entering the workforce, expecting to find their seat at the table (via Prosperity for America). And not just any job will do; most people these days are seeking out better pay, better work-life balance, and a healthier work culture overall. To get everything you want out of your job, sometimes it's necessary to pivot to an entirely different career. 

Launching into a new career can be challenging, especially if you feel like a total newbie in your prospective field. Wondering where to begin and how to get your foot in the door at a new job? Whether you want to be an electrician, a public relations representative, or a barista, follow these tips for learning about your field and getting started on a new path. 

Assess your skills and passions

It's easy to get carried away daydreaming about a cute new uniform, respectable title, or fancy company car. Before you start down the job-hunting rabbit hole, it's important to look inward at yourself. Ask yourself these questions: Why am I changing directions? What hasn't been fulfilling in this career? What do I hope to learn in my new career? What do I hope to contribute? Understanding your "why's" and your reasons for making this big move is crucial to ensure you're making the right choice. Until you can boil down your "why," it will be really hard to convince someone else to hire you on as a new employee with little experience. 

Journaling can be a great tool to help you explore your thoughts and discover some of your soft skills. Glassdoor explains that "soft skills" are personality traits, talents, or abilities that help you advance yourself and your company as a whole, as opposed to "hard" skills like knowing how to use Microsoft Excel. Some examples of soft skills might include a positive attitude, leadership abilities, or multitasking at work. As you're journaling your "why," it might help you to write down your talents and all the skills you've learned from past jobs and experiences. As you're considering your next career move, look at your list and circle the skills that transfer easily into your next job.

Learn before you leap

Now that you have a better understanding of yourself, it's time to learn more about your desired field. Talk to people you know and try to learn from people in the field. The internet is a beautiful resource for networking through LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media. Learning about your prospective career can also help you ace the interviews as a newbie. Although you may not have much experience, showing some knowledge in the field tells your future employer that you're willing to research and learn in your free time.

Figure out what you'll need and where there are gaps in your knowledge. Would it help to attend a class or read some books on the subject? Can you find a few blogs or tune in to some podcasts? Do you need a GED, a specific college degree, or experience level to start a new job? There's no shame in going to school as an adult above the typical college age. The number of adult college students has been increasing since the 1970s, with as many as 18.5 million adult students projected for 2024 (via Maryville University). Consider all the little stepping stones you'll need to cross on the way to your dream job, but try not to get overwhelmed. Spending just a little bit of time learning every day can make big changes in your life farther down the line. 

Dip your toes in the water

You've done the research and the self-reflection, now it's time to try your hand at the work. Experience is the best teacher because it helps us learn from our mistakes. According to Act for Libraries, humans tend to care more about things that affect us personally, so our brains are better at storing information learned from experience, rather than a textbook. 

Do you know anyone who's currently working in your desired field? Ask to shadow them for a day, set up a brief internship, or try helping them with some of their projects after hours. If you don't know anyone in the field, look for ways to engage in the work on your own. For example, if you want to be a tax consultant, ask if you can help your friends and family file their taxes. You could even do freelance or contract work, depending on the career you want. While friends and family are great resources, you should also try to get out of your comfort zone. Try attending a workshop or business seminar near you. If you work in a creative job, try selling your products at a farmers market or local event. These are some great ways to immerse yourself in the culture of your new career and feel out some potential networks. 

Help yourself stand out

Let's be honest; in a world where 96% of people want to change their jobs, you've got a lot of competition (via Monster). Starting a brand new career with no experience can be daunting, especially when it seems like everyone else in the room has a thicker resume than you. You may not have a lot of experience, but you've got lots of other great qualities and tools you can use to your advantage. To keep your resume from getting lost in the shuffle, Forbes recommends editing your resume for every application and including a few keywords from the original job posting. 

Next, make sure your networking profiles, like LinkedIn, are in tip-top shape. Consider getting a professional photographer (or talented friend) to take some clear headshots for your profile pictures, and make sure your public profiles are free from any posts with drugs, excessive drinking, or offensive language. If you really want to stand out, consider creating your own website. A website is something unique that will help your employers see who you are beyond your resume, and website builders like Wix or Squarespace are fun and easy to use. Be sure to include all of the essentials, like an "about me" page and a quick way to contact you. You could even start a personal blog about your journey. Include a few SEO keywords, and potential employers might even come to you.

Look for the right match

Neither Rome nor CEOs were built in a day. Most likely, it's going to take some time before you find the right company to join in your new career field. When you don't have much experience, you'll have better luck getting hired at start-up companies. These companies are often desperate for workers, so they'll be more likely to hire you for your soft skills and basic knowledge, rather than stone-cold experience. Working for a startup company can have some advantages too. According to Indeed, these young companies tend to offer good learning environments, relaxed atmospheres, and plenty of opportunities to grow your career. 

Of course, with the economy in its current state, you can afford to be a little picky with your interviews. Workers are a hot commodity these days, so use this to your advantage (of course, you're the hottest, since you're so eager to learn!). Be patient and keep applying to new jobs and gaining experience in your free time. When you do land an interview for a really great company, remember to dress nicely, be honest on your resume, and emphasize your willingness to learn and your excitement for the opportunity. 

Embrace your new adventure

Congratulations, you're hired! Now what? The work doesn't end after you get that happy phone call. As you rush headstrong into your new career, remember to stay committed to learning. Take time to listen to your peers and coworkers, and try to assimilate with your new workplace culture and adopt the lingo. Indeed recommends that you take the first few weeks of your new job to make yourself familiar with your surroundings, ask questions carefully, and follow through on the promises you made during your interview. 

After a few months in your new job, you should quickly find yourself settling in, making friends, and building your network. The most important thing is to maintain an open-minded spirit, seek out ways that you can help the company, and work on gaining a good reputation. Whatever you do, don't give up! Even if you don't love your new company right away, remember your reasons for changing to this career. Staying at this company for as long as you can will help you beef up your resume and gain experience you can someday transfer to your next big move.