Making a Career Change Without Experience? Here's How to Start

Making a career change can be an exciting yet daunting endeavor, especially if you're stepping into an entirely new field where you lack experience. You might find yourself filled with enthusiasm for a fresh start, but also burdened by the nagging worry of how to make that leap successfully. You want to know how to start a new career with no experience, but part of you wonders if it's possible.

Key Takeaways

Making a career change can be an exciting yet daunting endeavor, especially if you're stepping into an entirely new field where you lack experience. You might find yourself filled with enthusiasm for a fresh start, but also burdened by the nagging worry of how to make that leap successfully. You want to know how to start a new career with no experience, but part of you wonders if it's possible.

Well, now's the time to let go of the worry and see how possible it is to start fresh!

We'll explore the strategies and steps to undertake this bold move, providing you with the tools to transition confidently into a new and fulfilling career path.

How to Start a New Career With No Experience

Making a career change without direct experience in a new field is possible and can be an invigorating and transformative experience.

But the good news is that you are not alone in this journey! Check these statistics out:

  • 37% of the U.S. labor force changed or lost jobs in 2020.
  • 65% of American workers are actively searching for a new full-time job right now.
  • The average age Americans change their careers is 39.
  • People under 24 years have approximately 3.8 more job changes than people over 45 years old. (1)
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So let's get started answering all the questions about how it's done so you can see the possibilities for yourself!

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

How Can I Identify the Right Career Path for Me? Can a Self-Evaluation Help?

Understanding who you are and why you want a career change is vital to becoming a career changer. Begin by evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you excel at?
  • What skills do you already possess that apply to a new career?
  • What do you need to learn to move into a career that suits your skills and talents?

Consider career quizzes online such as "Career Personality Profiler" or "The TypeFinder® for Career Planning."

And check out the Unmudl network for online and on-demand courses with direct access to interviews with national businesses upon completion.

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How Do I Research Potential Career Paths?

Once you have a clearer sense of your interests and skills, researching careers that align with them becomes the next critical step. This phase is about gathering information to guide your choices and set you on a path that resonates with your aspirations.

Job Descriptions and Required Qualifications

Begin by looking at various job opportunities in the fields you're interested in. Pay attention to what the ads say about:

  • Common responsibilities
  • Required qualifications
  • Preferred skills

Understanding what employers are looking for will help you gauge what you need to learn and emphasize in your job applications.

Talk to People Already Working in Your Chosen Field

Connecting with professionals who are already in the field can offer priceless insights. Arrange informational interviews, attend networking events, see relevant industry publications, or join relevant social media groups.

Talking with a knowledgeable contact can give you a real-world perspective on the day-to-day life in a particular career, the challenges you'd face, and the skills truly needed to succeed.

And speaking of skills, learn what you need to start a new path with Unmudl's national community college career and business network!

Research Career Industry Trends and Growth

Investigate the prospects of the industries you're interested in. Understanding industry trends helps you find a preferred career path with a strong potential for growth and stability.

You can learn more about which careers stand out at The US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, look into your potential field's average salaries, benefits, and growth opportunities.

Understanding the financial aspects of a career can help you make a well-informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and financial goals.

Consider the Work Environment and Culture

Reflect on the type of work environment and organizational culture that suits you best.

  • Do you prefer a fast-paced, competitive atmosphere or a more collaborative, relaxed setting?
  • Is time alone throughout the day crucial, or do you need to be around others?
  • Do you want all the benefits of an employee, or are you interested in building your own business as an entrepreneur or consultant?

Researching company reviews on Glassdoor and talking to current employees can help you gauge the fit of a potential path forward.

Can I Transition to a Completely Different Industry?

Many skills are transferable across industries, and willingness to learn can open doors to new fields. Depending on the field, you might need further education or specific training.

Research what you need and consider enrolling in relevant courses or workshops.

Consider the Unmudl network of community colleges and businesses looking to hire! Many courses are online and on-demand; you can earn certifications and other proof of your new skill set!

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Do Transferable Skills Matter When Making a Career Change?

When considering a career change, especially in a field where you may not have direct experience, you may worry if you possess transferable skills. How important are they, and can they genuinely make a difference in your ability to transition successfully?

The answer is a resounding yes, and here's why:

Bridging the Gap

Transferable skills can bridge the gap between your current experience and the requirements of a new career. 

Moving from a project manager position, for example, into a data analyst role would allow you to bring some abilities with you to your new role. You would have experience communicating with other business professionals to accomplish common goals. However, you would need to develop your date skillset with a course such as "Deep Dive Data Science-Part-time" or "Deep Dive Data Science Full-time"

Transferable Soft Skills

Also, consider that "soft" skills are highly valued across various industries and can make you a competitive candidate even without specific experience.

Soft skills include characteristics such as:

  • Communication
  • Empathy
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability

You likely have developed many of these skills without realizing that you have the solid foundation you need when applying for a job in a new career.

Personal Confidence and Motivation

Recognizing and valuing your transferable skills can boost your confidence as you embark on a challenging career path.

Knowing you already possess abilities that will serve you well can motivate you during the transition.

Creating a Compelling Narrative

When explaining your career change to potential employers, your transferable skills are crucial to your story.

According to Harvard Business Review

"The most important step in getting others onboard with your career transition is crafting a compelling narrative. It’s a tool often overlooked by “professional reinventers,” but it can be a critical determinant of success in winning others’ support for your professional goals and vision for the future."

Create a coherent narrative that connects your past experiences with your future goals, making your desired career change or transition appear more logical and well-considered.

Rather than seeing a lack of direct experience as a hindrance, view your transferable skills as powerful tools that can pave the way to a rewarding new career.

Emphasizing these skills throughout your job search will likely make the transition smoother and more successful.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

How Do I Build a Resume with No Direct Experience?

When applying for jobs, focus on your transferable skills and willingness to learn and adapt. Your cover letter is a chance to explain your career change and why you believe you're a strong candidate despite lacking direct experience.

Skills-Based Resume

Consider a skills based resume. A skills-based resume, also known as a functional resume, emphasizes an individual's skills and competencies over their chronological work history.

Unlike a traditional chronological resume, which lists work experience in reverse chronological order, a skills-based resume focuses on the abilities and talents directly relevant to the job you are applying for.

Here's a breakdown of the key components and benefits of a skills-based resume:

Introduction and Objective

A concise introduction or objective statement highlighting your career goals and why you're suited for the position. It often includes a summary of the key skills that make you an ideal candidate.

Skills Section

The core of a skills-based resume is the skills section. Here, you categorize your skills into thematic areas: communication skills, leadership, technical abilities, etc. Under each category, you provide examples of how you have demonstrated those skills in various settings.

Relevant Experience and Achievements

Instead of listing jobs chronologically, you directly relate your experience and achievements to the skills you've highlighted. This way, you show how your experience aligns with the relevant skills you need for the job.

Education and Training

Include your educational background and any additional training or certifications supporting your skillset.

Work History (Optional)

Some skills-based resumes may include a brief work history section, listing previous jobs without detailed descriptions. This allows employers to see your employment background without it being the focal point.

Benefits of a Skills-Based Resume

  • Highlighting Transferable Skills: Focus on the abilities relevant to the position.
  • Customizable: Tailor a skills-based resume to closely match the specific requirements of each job closely, making your application more appealing to employers.
  • Emphasis on Potential: By focusing on skills rather than job titles, this resume showcases your potential to excel in the role, even if you lack direct experience in the field.

A skills-based resume can be an effective tool for job seekers looking to highlight specific skills and competencies over work history. It can benefit career changers, recent graduates, or those with varied or unrelated job experiences.

If you need experience in the field you're interested in, consider developing skills with courses or certificates that show your interest and passion.

Check out Unmudl to get started! With classes designed for working learners, you can't go wrong. 

Check out these exciting possibilities:

With a compelling narrative and the right skills and education, you're ready to apply for positions in your newly chosen field!

Where Can I Get Training or Education for My New Career?

Consider online courses, workshops, community college classes, and mentoring opportunities.

Depending on your chosen career path, further education or specific training may be necessary. Explore the options, whether online courses, certifications, or degree programs, and consider how they align with your goals and budget.

Check out Unmudl for the latest Skills to Jobs courses designed to put you on the fast track to a new career!

For example, if you enjoy computers, software programming might interest you. An online course in Full Stack development could help you land the job of your dreams.

So let's say you look at job ads and need a course teaching these skills::

  • Intensive training in Functional JavaScript, React, Express, Typescript, and Redux
  • HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap
  • MySQL Databases and Database Design
  • Git and GitHub
  • Agile Project Management

You find a course that fits your current schedule: Deep Dive Fullstack. You start taking relevant classes, work toward your new role in an exciting industry, and never look back!

Should I Quit My Current Job Before Finding a New One?

It's generally wise to secure a new position before leaving your current job to ensure financial stability. With online courses, you can usually keep your day job while you take classes to develop your skills.

Once you're ready to do the new job, apply to hiring managers for positions and move forward with your life!

How Can Networking Help Me Change My Career?

Networking can provide inside knowledge about industries, connect you with potential employers, and offer mentorship opportunities.

Building connections within the industry you're interested in can be invaluable. Attend seminars, industry-specific events, join online forums, and hop on professional social platforms like LinkedIn.

Networking helps you to gain relevant experience and insider knowledge and can often lead to opportunities not advertised publicly.

[photo of someone networking]

Is It Worth Hiring a Career Coach or Counselor?

A career coach can provide personalized guidance and support, helping you identify your goals and the steps needed.

If you feel overwhelmed, these services can provide personalized guidance, helping you navigate the research process and aligning your interests with potential career paths.

What If I Face Rejection in My New Career Path?

Rejection is common when trying something new; persistence, learning from feedback, and continued effort often lead to success. 

Rather than viewing rejection as a failure, see it as a valuable learning opportunity. It provides insights into where you can improve and encourages your personal growth. 

Sara Blakely is the entrepreneur who invented and marketed the enormously successful Spanx undergarment, which spawned a multi-million-dollar clothing empire, and launched Sara to billionaire status. But getting there took a lot of hard work and vision for this former door-to-door fax salesperson. (1)

"My dad encouraged us to fail growing up. He would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome--failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail."

Maintaining a positive attitude, staying committed to your goals, and being open to adapting your approach can transform rejection into a stepping stone to achieve your new career aspirations. 

The resilience and determination you demonstrate in the face of rejection can become the very traits that propel you toward your desired career.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Transition into a New Career Successfully?

Your timeline will vary depending on your schedule, chosen field, and the effort put into networking, learning, and applying for jobs. Patience and perseverance are key. 

So stay committed to your goals, keep learning, and don't let yourself get discouraged by setbacks.

You can create a successful narrative by thoughtfully approaching your reason for leaving your current career. Even if you don't have direct experience in the field, if you prepare effectively, a prospective employer or hiring manager will see your dedication to switch careers, such as your:

  • Life experience: including soft skills learned during previous experience from past jobs
  • Desire to change careers, as evidenced by new skills
  • Job application or online portfolio highlighting your passion for the new field and any educational requirements you've worked hard to fulfill
  • Key accomplishments that helped you gain experience in the new field
  • Volunteer work or unpaid-basis internships
  • Hands-on experience (making an onboarding process easier)
  • Attempts to attend industry events, seminars, or other events to gain industry experience.

Switching careers may require hard work and patience, but the reward of a fulfilling new career is well worth the effort. And when you're making more money or getting better benefits, you'll be glad you persevered!

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Acquire the Skills You Need to Succeed as a Career Changer with Unmudl

Unmudl, the community college and business network, has you covered. From gaining skills to applying for the job you eventually accept, we offer the resources, guidance, and community business support to help you navigate your career change confidently and succeed.

With a diverse range of online and in-person courses, hands-on training, and support from industry professionals, we empower you to explore new career paths and develop the competencies to excel.

Unmudl partnerships with national businesses ensure that the education you receive aligns with current market demands, providing a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace.  

Contact us at or 512-669-5624 with any questions. Get in touch today to stay focused and start moving into your dream job! 

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