By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor
“Although you’re a qualified candidate, we’re looking for someone with more experience in our line of work.” Ouch. Finding a job in an industry you have no previous experience in is one of the hardest career challenges there is. Employers can demand that job candidates have prior experience in their industry because the market allows them to. You’ve got to be really up for the challenge if you’re going to succeed. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible! You just have to ready to dress up a new perspective for yourself.

Examine Your Motives – Why are you subjecting yourself to a whole new job field? Look harder at the purpose behind what it is you’re trying to do. People’s reasons for changing to a new industry – or even a new major in this case – are often related to the purpose of that industry.
Be Clear on What the Appeal is – For you to be committed to breaking into a different industry, it must really appeal to you. Do your research to understand well what it is that this industry gives you that others don’t.
Look for Shared Values – Check out what values you share with your industry of choice. Different industries have different value-sets. For example, in certain industries the issue of safety is paramount. For engineers to be able to work in environments they do, they must accept that the most important thing is not to endanger human life.
Understand What it is You Offer – You need to be clear on the experience, drive, and ambition that you have. At this stage, you have no experience and no track record. What is it about you that is going to make you more appealing than the other candidates? All this can be showcased on your resume. Even though the experience itself is rather dated, if it allows you to elaborate on a skill you haven’t touched upon, don’t be afraid to use it! One of the most beneficial things you can add to your resume is a “Relevant Coursework” section to let the employer know that you do have knowledge in certain areas that aren’t necessarily encompassed in their preconceived idea of what your major entails.
Use Relevant Contacts – How can you utilize the people in the industry that you know? Use them to find out what the industry is like and also to arrange introductions to the right person. What you seek is honest, objective answers to your questions. You don’t want to go and enter an industry you have no experience in until you’ve done this sort of homework. At worst, you will find out what you need to do to be more viable as a job candidate in this industry.