How to Pivot into a Completely New Industry Without Any Prior Work Experience

Let's get REALLY REAL right now: a few years ago, when I launched my brand, RX Ashlee, I had absolutely zero experience working as a "Career Coach." 

All I really knew were strategies on how to stand out in a busy competitive marketplace. And I knew how to pitch myself pretty well to employers and companies interested in hiring outside consultants. Most importantly, I LOVED helping my friends, family, and colleagues prepare for high stakes job interviews or big speaking engagements…. 

As I've said before, my formal education did not teach me these skills. Instead, these abilities came from my own innate strengths. Really, I was only able to identify all of this for the first time AFTER I invested in myself and hired a career coach. 

From the inception of RX Ashlee, I've always envisioned a safe place where high-level professionals can get the support they deserve. I want people to feel like they're able to prepare for interviews and know how to build a personal brand (more on this in next month's blog!) because these are two concepts that are both incredibly important in order to stand out as a job seeker. Whenever I googled "career tips" or "job interviews," nothing really stood out to me. So, I innately knew I wanted to create a nurturing environment where ANYONE, from a student to a CEO, could get a community. 

Once I knew what I needed to do, I leveraged my network, signed up to give as many speaking engagements as possible, launched my blog and podcast, and re-branded my LinkedIn profile. I started saying YES to anyone and everyone who would talk with me about career development. I interviewed recruiters and headhunters who were experts in job interviewing to learn directly from them. I also invested in hundreds of courses, business books, and business coaches. 

Fast forward 4-5 years, and I am happy to report that "putting myself out there," is finally paying off. I am a professional keynote speaker! I get paid to do the work I absolutely LOVE, the clients I work with are LANDING OR CREATING their dream jobs, and many of clients have turned into life-long friends (Major shout out to my CBD'ers!!!!). 

But here is the truth behind all this: I feel so drastically different than when I first got started. I FEEL very confident about the work I am doing TODAY because I can see the success my clients achieve BECAUSE of the work we do together. 

And, on the surface, it can seem like my direct qualifications with my education seemingly have nothing to do with my current career path. However, this is all truly possible because I was able to pivot my actions and goals to better succeed in what I wanted to do and the impact I’ve always wanted to make. 

Going back to when I first launched RX Ashlee, the truth is that two HUGE pieces of success were missing from my formula: confidence and experience. The reality is that I had neither. All I had was the drive to make a difference in people's lives via supporting them in their careers. I knew I could help thousands (maybe millions?) of people land, or create, their dream jobs. 

So, I am sharing this blog with you about how to transition into a new career without specific experience because I'VE DONE IT (a few times!), and I know you can too! 

In this blog, we'll be taking a close look at how you can successfully pivot into a new industry even if you don't have the specific work experience that is "required" for the job you want.

How to Start Pivoting Your Career

Without a doubt, the most common question I receive from clients is: "How do I stand out in a competitive marketplace when I do not feel like I have the qualifications that are required for the position I want?"

Since we can't dive into the specifics of your situation in this blog, I'll give you the high-level version of my response to this question:  If you want to make a big change in your life, get comfortable being uncomfortable! 

The reality is there are a few logistical issues that may honestly make you NOT qualified for a position. In these cases, you may have to adjust your goals and lifestyle in addition to potentially going back to school.

Here are some examples of potential requirements that could hold people back from transitioning their careers:

  • You do not have a necessary license for the position – you want to be a neurosurgeon, but you did not go to medical school… that's going to be an issue unless you go back to school

  • You are not able to travel, but the position requires 50% travel – whether it's because of family responsibilities or finances, this type of requirement may be insurmountable

  • You are geographically unable to move – your dream is to get this job in New York, but you cannot relocate to California where the job actually is

  • You are unable to commit to full-time work, but the job requires >40 hours/week – many people hit different points in their lives where they need to cut back on work. If this is the case with you, it may be necessary to make compromises until you can meet the hour requirements for that job

  • They want you to work for FREE – knowing your worth will help you narrow down plenty of "opportunities" that are not going to be in your best interest, even if everything else sounds perfect with the job

And the list goes on and on…. 

I recognize that reading job qualifications, job postings, and online marketing boards can be extremely overwhelming. The truth is you have way more control than you think you do.

Feeling like you aren't qualified for a role can really make you question yourself AND hold you back. But here is the catch: it might just be a FEELING that is holding you back, not the actual truth. 

Whenever you're struggling with self-doubt, I really want to encourage you to put your feelings aside. Instead, focus on your ultimate vision of success instead – even if you feel like you're stuck in a catch 22! 

Take note of your transferable skills, review and spruce up your resume, prepare to sound confident and nail your interview, and – after all of your hard work – you may just realize that you're actually PERFECT for the job.

Acknowledging the Catch 22 of Starting a New Career

At this point, you may feel as if transitioning jobs is not really in your immediate future because you need more experience to land the job.

 This catch 22 may cause us to spiral into a never-ending cycle of self-doubt.

So what's next?!

Acknowledging that these thoughts are part of a big catch 22 is the first step you can take. A catch 22 is defined as "a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there seems to be no escape because of conflicting conditions."

In this case, at least, you can make two choices: jump into the career to get the experience or avoid it altogether. 

If you are indeed 100% dedicated to elevating your career, you know that option 2 isn't really an option at all. Instead, we need to recognize that, for big changes to happen in our life, we have to try out new things! We have to be a NEWBIE with learning when it comes to making new changes in our life.

If this is the case for you: create a solution for yourself. Make sure to develop a measurable, specific, detailed, and intentional strategy to REALLY succeed in this busy marketplace! 

How You Can Create the Right Strategy to Pivot into a New Industry

Since I've been doing this for a few years, I've learned a few things from my clients and what it took for them to succeed. If you don't have much experience in your intended field, here's how you can create a fantastic strategy for yourself:

1.   Recognize this is a marathon, not a sprint

On average, a career pivot can take anywhere between 3 months to 3 years. Just last week, I had a client who finally landed her dream job. We had been working together for NEARLY two years. Prepare yourself for a MARATHON and not a sprint if you want to do this successfully.

2. Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset

So many people are uncomfortable with the idea of calling themselves an entrepreneur. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, you'll want to develop an entrepreneurial mindset so that you can always be on the lookout for ways to reach your goals.

Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset is a shift in your thought process that will allow you to think more globally about your STRENGTHS and skills. You'll have to get creative and see road bumps as a problem that needs a solution. Simple as that! 

Start off by asking yourself: What is the problem that needs to be solved? 

In my case, I saw friends, family members, and colleagues struggle to land the jobs they deserve. Why? Simply because they did not have the TOOLS on how to articulate themselves during job interviews… and I knew I could help them! 

Then, move on to thinking about: What skills from all of your other experiences can you use to solve this problem? I knew I was good at sales and pitching myself! So, naturally, that was one area that I knew I could help people in.

With that mindset, you can conquer all of the new and scary problems that come with shifting your career. HECK YES.

3. Flip the script

Instead of focusing on what you don't have, think about all of the things that you have already learned and accomplished. 

Most people tend to focus on the skills that they DON'T have – not the ones they could have or already have. Half of the time when I am prepping clients for interviews, they bring up all of the qualifications they DO NOT have for the role. If this were to happen in an interview, it'd be a direct message to the interviewer that this person really is not qualified and they do not belong here.

So, flip the script and begin rewiring yourself to think only in positives. Talk about yourself, your experience, your skills, your strengths, but only in the most positive frame possible. When you encounter something totally new, ask yourself what skills and experiences you can draw on from your past that could get applied in your new setting.

 And, of course, take the time to create a list of all of your gifts, experiences, and skills so that you can really take stock of how much you can do!

4. Surround yourself with people in your desired industry

Another fantastic strategy that you should use when pivoting into a new industry is to actually surround yourself with people who are LIVING it every day.

You'll be able to learn from them and, often, get an entirely new support network. While you shouldn't meet new people with the sole intention of getting a job through them, many people are happy to help when they can! 

Do something different and move out of your comfort zone. Go to a local networking event in your desired industry; you can even acknowledge that you're new and looking to learn! 

 Building these types of experiences into your strategy will help you get out from behind your computer screen and into the field!

5. Nail your pitch! 

Regardless of whether or not you are trying to pivot your career, you should be working hard to nail your pitch!

When you are just starting out with a new endeavor, or if you're joining the workforce for the first time, sounding confident and being able to advocate for yourself is MAJOR. 

Your pitch is going to be the summary of ALL the reasons you should get your dream job. It's why you're a great fit for the team. It's going to bridge the divide between the requirements for the job and your experiences.

See your pitch as an opportunity to address any "gaps" between your experience and what they're looking for, especially if you're pivoting your career. While, on paper, it may not seem like you have much relevant experience, your pitch is precisely where you can prove them wrong!

In fact, creating a pitch for yourself is one of the biggest topics of my Career by Design and Interview Preparation course. So many people struggle with finding the right way to talk about themselves. That's why you need to learn how to nail your pitch now rather than trying to wing it during your interview.

6. Don't be scared to start from scratch

When we were just starting out, either freshly out of college or in this "new career pivot" territory, it was easier to jump into new experiences. We didn't have many on-the-job skills, but that didn't matter! We were there to learn and conquer regardless.

So, what is it that changes from this mindset when we're looking to go into a new industry? 

Allow yourself to start from square one and build yourself up from the ground. Creating a solid foundation is essential to succeeding in a new career, and you can't be afraid of the experiences that will help you create that foundation.

Create a list of realistic expectations for yourself. Think about what you'd like to achieve or learn in 3 months. Then, ask yourself where you'd like to be in 3 years! With this clarity in mind, create a strategy that helps you start from scratch and reach all of your goals.

You'll need to create a system where you get the support you deserve so that you can continue to invest in yourself and your future. 

Being able to transition into a new industry, without any experience, confidently might be tricky if you’re trying to do it ALONE. In fact, helping people to get over that discomfort is exactly the reason I launched my latest course: Career by Design!