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Job Hunting: Starting a career with no prior experience

I’m sure we have all come across several postings on job search sites that we really want to apply for, but the prerequisite was ‘Must have at least 6 months of experience’. How are you going to start your career when nearly all of the entry job positions you are applying for require you to have experience in the first place?

This is especially true if you are doing a job search in a new industry. Students studying engineering might find themselves drawn to doing script development or theatre production but lack the knowledge or experience to do so and find the switch more difficult than they think. If, as another example, you worked in communications but wanting to switch to web design – even if you had a background in agency work, most employers frequently demand some amount of experience in the related field.

So how do you gain experience when you are expected to already have some before being considered for a job? Freelancing? Below are some tips you can follow to gain the experience most HR managers may be looking for.

Create content

Industries like fashion and technology can be difficult to enter as they require people with very specific skills and knowledge of the history, marketplace, audience and product. If you are wanting to start your career in these industries and are passionate about it, you can start writing about them. It does not need to be a whole well-researched blog from the start if writing is not your forte – you can begin small by contributing well-written reviews on Amazon or eBay, and slowly climb your way up by pitching ideas to blogs or platforms dedicated to the industry, or even start your own website. Creating content can stand alone as a work-from-home job - just remember to have a constant stream of content so as to have traffic to your website.

Do case studies of brands

If you are wanting to be a graphic designer, and appealing to clients, it would be best to have the client see your portfolio to get a feel of what you are offering, especially if you are coming from a different industry. One way is to do case studies of companies in the industry. List out 5-10 of your favorite brands and companies in the industry, and start your research. You can identify problems, and create solutions that you think might solve the problems. It does not have to be a big brand; smaller brands work just fine. Not only will it polish your skills, but it will add quality work to your portfolio.

Start it out as a hobby and make your way up

Who would have thought having a hobby could lead you to a career you’ve always wanted? Turns out it isn’t that uncommon to come across people who transformed their passion into a full-time job as more people today tend to want both greater control and enjoyment from their career. If, for example, you love doing reviews on fashion and beauty-related items. You start out by helping to organize local events in your area, and later helped promote them on social media. Eventually you became so adept that people started taking more notice of you and later on, brands would approach you. What started out as a hobby might become a constant paycheck for you.

Networking in the industry

This would be one of the most important factors in the secrets of breaking into an industry with no experience. A survey conducted by ArtBound Initiative, found out that over 50% of companies tend to hire through their inner network and referrals. You can start networking by following below tips:

  • Start by connecting with family, friends or peers who are currently working in the industry you are wanting to go to.

  • Send an email to colleagues or professors that you’d love to pick their brain over a cup of coffee and get a little insider knowledge about the field and the market.

  • Research and list out all public events and shows that are related to your would-be industry, and attend them with like-minded peers. If you go to these events often enough, someone is bound to remember your face – especially if you are bringing friends who are already knowledgeable in the area.

  • You may also ask to join industry-specific organizations, which not only is a very helpful addition to your resume, but you are then introduced to an inner network in the industry, increasing your chances of getting hired in the industry.

What better way to show off your skills than to make content out of it? Start by creating a free website or blog dedicated to your work and portfolio and list out the experiences you have in that field, like your case studies, reviews, blog posts, and articles. You may include a short description about your ambitions and previous accomplishments.

When you have all this set up, hiring managers will see your dedication and passion in the industry, despite coming from a different major, and it might just be your breakthrough to the industry you have always wanted.

- Kania Putri, ArtBound Initiative Team

Join the ArtBound Initiative Program to receive further one-on-one career coaching from industry advisors. Become part of our global, professional network of creative professionals who will become key players in their own industries and regions. More info at

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