When I was an undergraduate student, I had no idea how multi-passionate I would become as I entered my twenties. I never imagined myself finding and sticking to one career path for my entire life. I’ve always had multiple interests and skills, and often thrive as a “Jill of all trades, master of none.”
My first job out of college was with the Department of Human Services. I was eager to use my Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and psychology. I quickly realized that the role was not a good fit for me. I accepted a position as an Administrative Assistant with a government contractor.
For a while, I loved my job, but it quickly grew old. In that role, I had the opportunity to support various marketing initiatives, and I felt a strong pull towards marketing. There was only one problem – I didn’t have any real experience in a marketing role.
How to Pivot Industries with Limited Experience
I decided I wanted to switch industries and was determined to do so, despite the limited amount of experience I had. Below are the five tips that helped me pivot from the government contracting world into digital marketing:
1. Ask someone to help you translate your skills.
When I first started applying for entry-level roles in digital marketing, I felt like I didn’t have any relevant skills worth mentioning. I asked one of my trusted coworkers at the time to review my resume and add any skills I had missed. She had a completely different view of the work I was doing and my role, and she helped me articulate my skills in a way that I had never considered before.
Asking someone who knows what you do, but doesn’t do the same job as you, can help ensure that you don’t undermine your value. Our coworkers can often identify traits and skills we possess that we cannot always see in ourselves.
You could also take a few aptitude tests to help you hone in on your best skills that can transfer from one job to the next.
2. Tap into your connections.
Networking is an essential part of job searching. I told my family and friends that I wanted to work in digital marketing and spread the word to as many people as possible. In doing so, I learned that my dad had a connection to the digital marketing industry. I was able to skip the online resume submission process at a company of interest. I was introduced directly to the HR team, which put me a few steps ahead in the process.
Speak your goals into existence, and share them with those around you. You never know what connections you might come across just by asking. If you are unable to find connections in your inner circle, consider attending networking functions or participating in online communities.
3. Be proactive and prove you have what it takes to fulfill the role.
After connecting with the HR team about a potential opportunity through my dad’s connection, I completed a series of phone interviews. The initial interviews were short and sweet introductions. As I advanced through the different phases of the interview process, I knew I needed to begin preparing for an in-person interview in case I was fortunate enough to be offered one.
Although I was able to translate my skills directly into marketing-based functions with the help of my coworker, I lacked the necessary skills for the position I was interviewing for. In particular, the position I was interviewing for centered around the Google Marketing Platform tools. I didn’t know much about the tools, nor had I ever worked with them before, but I wanted to make sure I learned as much as I could before my interview. Fortunately, Google offers free training courses for their products online, so I began studying in the evenings after my day job to help me prepare for my interview.
If you don’t have every skill listed in a job description, that’s okay! Prove and show that you are interested and capable of further developing your knowledge or leveling up your skills where needed.
4. Set yourself apart and leave a lasting impression during your interview.
I was invited to come in for an in-person interview with the team. I wasn’t certain how many candidates would be interviewing for the position, but I knew I was at a disadvantage given my lack of experience. I had studied as much as I could about the marketing tools, but I wanted to take an additional step to set myself apart from any other candidates.
Creative problem-solving was one of the soft skills listed in the job posting. Rather than tell the team that I was creative, I wanted to show them that I was. I put together a small portfolio for each interviewer on the panel that contained my resume, letters of recommendation, and the certificates of completion for the Google online training courses I had completed. I also created a collage with magazine cutouts for the front cover of the portfolio. I chose phrases that described how I would perform in the role, such as “professional,” “compassion,” and “help customers escape stress.”
My portfolios were talked about for months after I joined the team. With a small budget and a couple of hours of free time, I was able to create a lasting impact while showcasing that I had the skills for the job. Leave a lasting impression in whatever way makes the most sense for the role you are applying for.
5. Have faith in your ability to achieve your goals.
Networking and preparation helped me get an interview, but confidence helped me land the job. I confidently believed that I could do the job and was willing to learn and grow to make up for my lack of experience. I was offered the job about an hour post-interview via phone.
You have to believe in yourself to convince others that they should believe in you too.
Navigating the early stages of your career in your early twenties can be challenging. It’s possible to pivot industries with limited experience, so chase your passions and try different roles to find what works best for you!