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One of the most challenging positions to be in as a professional is to want a job in an industry where you have little, if any, experience. Increasingly companies hire based upon potential and personality. Yes, competencies do matter but many companies are looking for cultural fit. They are often willing to provide training to ensure you can perform the essential functions—this often applies to entry level positions. A few of the challenges you may encounter if you seek a position in an industry in which you have minimal experience includes your limited ability to do the job, a lack of connections, or minimal relevant industry knowledge. The following recommendations can help position you for such a career pivot:

Volunteer

Volunteering can be an effective way of gaining the experience you need to improve your potential as a candidate. It can also help you connect with others who may be willing to serve as references for you. Volunteer strategically though, do not waste anyone else’s time or your own—this involves identifying organizations at which you can make meaningful contributions while also achieving your goals of gaining experience and developing meaningful professional relationships.

Network

One of the most powerful assets you have is your network. Alumni associations are valuable sources of talented professionals, with many willing to provide you with guidance and mentorship. You can often search for alumni in certain industries or organizations. Formal mentorship programs can provide you with access to professionals positioned to guide you and offer connections to others within various professional associations as well.

Informational Interviews

Another way to gain insight into certain industries or organizations involves informational interviews. These types of interviews are relatively easy to secure through alumni associations. Interviews with alumni can help you understand how they secured their position, what key insight they can offer working in the industry, as well as offer information that can help you understand other steps you can take to position yourself to work in the industry.

Staying current with industry news is also essential. You should understand the challenges and potential challenges facing the industry as well as the anticipated impact of regulation, technology and changing demographics—all of this is in addition to understanding the competitive landscape and near-term opportunities for organizations.

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