Wondering how to start a new career with no experience?
Let’s rewind. When you are at college, everything seems fun and stable. Your task is to study hard, get good grades, and make your parents happy about your achievements.
However, everything changes once you graduate. You enter a real world full of challenges and struggles.
You realize that getting an A was much easier than landing a good job. A college degree is no longer a distinguishing factor. You’re forced to compete and do something to stand out from others. This is how a typical post-education life starts for fresh grads. In many cases, the higher institutions give you general knowledge, which isn’t particularly applicable in the modern world.
Today, more than 19 million Americans are unemployed, compared to 216,000 in February 2020. It means entry-level positions for students will be hit incredibly hard. Companies will most likely reduce the number of jobs and internships to recover from the recession.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate among Americans ages 22 to 27 who have recently obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.9% in December 2020. It is about 0.3% above the rate for all workers.
Despite the global crises and the ongoing pandemic, it is possible to land a good starting position. I was just 23 when I got my first job in Digital Marketing. I worked part-time during my bachelor studies; I took professional courses from experts; I participated in multiple conferences to develop public speaking; I knew what I wanted and worked hard to achieve it.
Nothing is impossible, but you need to start early.
Here is how to start a new career with no experience.
Find an Entry Job Where You Can Climb a Career Ladder
A lot of students combine their education with a part-time job to earn extra means. It is common to see students working as waiters, cashiers, hosts, promoters, dorm receptionists, tour guides, baristas, etc. It might be a good start, but does it add value to your CV if you want to land a job in your desired job sector? Most likely, no.
Without having an internship or relevant work experience, it might be challenging to stand out among the other applicants. However, you can go about kick-starting your career differently.
When I was a bachelor student, I didn’t know the field I wanted to work in. I didn’t have any work experience; all I knew was this: I wanted to find a place full of opportunities and learn from experts.
The first job is not about earning money, it’s about building connections and getting experience
I landed a part-time job as a customer representative in a medium-size company with multiple departments: IT, marketing, finance, sales, etc. When I graduated, I already had 1+ years of experience as a client manager. Since I knew the product and the clients, I managed to transition to a marketing department successfully.
Your first job and the people around you matter! They influence your vision and help to establish your future goals. If you want to become successful, you need to be among those who already achieved what you aim for.
Time and energy are limited. Spend some time to find an entry position at an established company, which can help you grow and define your development directions. That’s the first step of how to start a new career with no experience.
No Experience? Show What Else Proves Your Interest
Back in 2016, I had over a year of experience working as a client manager. However, I knew it might not be enough to switch to another position, even inside the company.
I didn’t have much to offer. I learned a lot about the business we did, but it was not enough to step into a new department. So, I had to prove to my boss that I was worth giving a try.
1. I enrolled in 2 professional online courses for beginners.
Each course was 2–3 months long, with experts from the industry and the final project presentations. It helped me learn the basics of online marketing, understand the most common marketing channels, and define the area I wanted to start my career within.
I learned about SEO (search engine optimization) and decided to give it a try.
2. I volunteered at an international SEPRO conference to meet industry gurus.
To deepen my marketing knowledge, I decided to help with the SEPRO conference organization, which was hold in Kyiv in 2016.
I met industry experts from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus who were open to sharing their experience and giving advice to a newbie. Back then, I realized how crucial it is to understand the scope of your future work. Otherwise, you can end up in a trap of wasting your time and energy on things you don’t like.
Photo from SEMPRO 2016 conference in Kyiv
I’ve since stopped doing SEO, but the knowledge gained helps me significantly in content marketing.
Some people I met are still open to talk if I have questions. Don’t underestimate the power of networking, instead dedicate some time to meet successful and experienced people who will help you move on.
3. I challenged myself to join the IT schools of the biggest local companies.
To help my CV stand out among the other applicants, I decided to participate in the famous local IT schools. It varies from country to country, but Ukraine has multiple product and IT schools for youngsters. The most successful participants land a job in one of the top IT companies in Kyiv.
I applied to multiple product schools and successfully finished a digital online academy from Devellar, an IT outsourcing company. Back then, it was quite a well-known company; thus, I gained extra experience and a credit for my CV.
It took me a year to complete all marketing courses I started, deepen knowledge in SEO, and finish the digital academy in Devellar. Eventually, I landed my first junior marketing position in 2017.
Start Building Your Professional Portfolio
A well-organized portfolio can go a long way in figuring out how to start a new career with no experience. show your expertise much better than a CV. A lot of companies don’t even consider a resume any longer. Candidates have to take a challenge, which evaluates their professional skills. This way, employers can make sure they hire the right person.
If you want to land a job in content writing — collect a list of your samples. For example, I show my posts on Medium to qualify for a content writer or a marketer position. I also send a few links to show my guest posts and share my writing strategy, which helps me produce at least 2,000 words a day.
This way, recruiters no longer have to debate whether I am the right fit or not. They see my capabilities, the quality of my posts, topics I write about and writing speed.
If you aim to become a designer — show your past work and explain how it helped your client solve their needs. You can store your former projects online with the help of website builders.
I reviewed several online website builders that help to create proper pages without coding skills. If you would like to use free website builders, try these — Webflow, Tilda.
If you want to land an internship as a developer — show some projects in GitLab. Some time ago, I wanted to become a front-end developer; thus, I learned basic coding and completed a few tasks, including a simple landing page coding.
My Github contains 18 repositories with small coding projects, including this cute winter calendar I coded last year.
Should you want to kick-off your career as a developer, take some time to build a basic portfolio. It will show the recruiters your motivation and willingness to grow professionally.
These Skills Helped Me to Get Hired
Recruiters conduct several rounds to evaluate potential candidates. It’s no longer enough to be a shining star in your CV. Soft skills are as crucial as hard skills.
When I worked as a client manager, my supervisor closely monitored my work and gave me an excellent recommendation to climb a career ladder.
Later on, the company CEO mentioned these skills as those, which helped me keep up with the work.
1. Clarity in communication
Busy people have no time to listen to long stories. You have to be short and concise when you talk to your manager or a company CEO.
It was one of the most challenging things to develop for me as a beginner. I still remember an advice from my manager that changed the way I work now.
Always add a context to your words. Before jumping to the actual tasks, explain what you do, why, and what you aim to achieve. No one can read your thoughts, you have to explain them.
2. Tasks ownership
No matter how young you are, you need to earn respect from others to become a part of the company’s environment. One of the ways to do it is to be reliable and punctual.
Stick to the deadlines, inform about the progress and delays, do not be ashamed to ask questions.
As a junior marketer in 2017, I worked with older and more experienced people than me. I failed a lot, I stressed a lot, but I did not give up.
If colleagues trust you, you will stay a valuable team member no matter how often you fail.
3. Foreign language knowledge
I was born bilingual. I speak Ukrainian and Russian. Apart from these languages, I am fluent in English and know basic German.
If you know several foreign languages, you might be a valuable asset for companies. My English skills helped me land a client manager job, where I continuously communicated with the clients from the US, UK, and Australia.
If you live in the US, you might want to learn Spanish, French, or any other foreign language.
Only 1 in 5 American students take a foreign language before college. You might be far above your peers if you learn at least one foreign language. That’s a big step in figuring out how to start a new career with no experience.
4. My passion for growing
You cannot do a job well if you are not passionate about it. A huge desire to gain knowledge and expertise made me work overtime and read business-related literature off work.
Now I can certainly say I’ve gained a lot of experience during my early career stage. However, it is crucial to balance work and life to keep motivation.
If you are not passionate about what you are doing, you are still waiting and searching for new opportunities.
So, that’s how to start a new career with no experience? When you’re at college, everyone is more or less equal. However, the race begins once you graduate. Everyone wants to have a decent job, which requires time, skills, and experience to acquire, most of which you won’t have as a graduate. But it shouldn’t prevent you from landing a dream job that will kick-off your successful career.
Think big. Don’t waste your time looking for temporary positions. Instead, focus on getting an internship or a part-time job at a company where you can grow, and build the missing skills you need.
While in college, take some relevant courses, do test projects to showcase your willingness and interest. Recruiters want to see, not only hear. You have to convince them by showing your portfolio and explaining your motivation.
Don’t be afraid of making drastic moves and career changes while you’re in your 20s. You still have a lot of time to figure out who you are and how to progress in life. Start taking care of your career while you’re still in college, and it will help you create a fundamental ground for your successful future.
That’s how to start a new career with no experience.