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Career Doctor
How to change my career to a new industry without prior experience?
posted on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 21:10

Hi Career Doctor,

After reading your insightful replies to different posts, it really initiate me to create this post, as your questions raised in different posts really hit the main point of different situation! Hope that I can also get the advice from your expertise in career planning!

Let me introduce my background. I am 28 with BSc graduated from a local university. After my graduation, I worked in a MNC as sales executive for the sales of medical laboratory equipment for 7 months. After that, I joined a non-profit organization as an executive officer until now (3.5 years).

Having a few years working experience, comparing my current job with my previous one, and researching the job nature of business-related job (Sales and Marketing, Business Analyst/Research), I found that my preferred career is in business field, especially Sales and Marketing, Business Analyst/Research. I am working so hard to try to change my job to business-related, sending many job applications but got very few responses. Although I was being invited to attend the interview for a market research position offered by a MNC in FMCG, finally I was failed.

As my background, both academic and working experience, are not really relating to Marketing/Business Research, is there anything I can do to sharpen my competitive edge when applying job in Marketing/Business Research?

I had read through the posts which has similar situation as me (e.g. like to change career to a different industry), and I would like to answer the same questions which you may ask me:

My enthusiasm in Marketing/Business Research:
I can 100% sure to tell you that I am extremely eager to work in Marketing/Business Research. I have spent much effort to advance my knowledge in this field, e.g. reading related business news, magazine, books, journals and any related articles in the internet. Even for the interview of market research position offered by a MNC in FMCG I mentioned before, I read the book about the development and history of that company. I am also thinking to study MSc in Marketing/Econ or not. After reading numerous comments from your previous post, I understand even I am a MSc in Marketing holder, it cannot guarantee me a job in marketing. However, as my background (both academic and working experience) is not related to Marketing/Business Research, is it worth for me to take the MSc in Marketing?

Reason to leave my current executive officer job in non-profit organization in education industry:
Although working in this non-profit organization can guarantee me a stable job, this job really cannot give me any job satisfaction in terms of job nature. My daily tasks are administrative work and following the routine internal guideline to conduct analysis of different courses. I had tried to seek advancement/promotion within this organization, however the chance is limited as the management prefer to hire external people rather than internal staff for position with higher rank. I am always to do my job well no matter what and give the best I can. However, the most important point is I do not have any faith in this job and industry. Comparing with my previous sales executive job, when I was successfully captured a new business deal really gave me much job satisfaction, and it is the main reason why I would like to change my career to business field. In conclusion, in term of the prospect of the industry I am currently working in, I can say it is very stable without much upward trend. In term of the prospect of the non-profit organization I am working now, the chance for promotion is limited and rare.

Reason to change from previous sales executive job to my current job:
It is because I was still not sure about my career objective and desired industry after my 7 months working experience as sales executive, so I decided to change to a totally different industry to have a try when I still young.

Reason not to move back to previous sales executive job, but Marketing/Business Research:
Although working as a sales executive can give me job satisfaction, the process which I enjoy most is to setting different business strategies base on different market information, which is highly related to the job of Marketing/Business Research.

My understanding of the nature, requirement and difficulty for the job in Marketing/Business Research:
I had researched the job nature, requirement and difficulty for the job in Marketing/Business Research thoroughly, through different related business news, magazine, books and friends working in marketing. I understand the job in business field is not as secure as my current job and the workload may be higher. However, I really not mind about that and I am sure if I can work in a position within an industry which I desired most, I can perform my very best and enjoy the job satisfaction.

I really understand no one can guarantee me a better prospect in any job/industry, and whether you can be successful not only depends on how hard you work, it also depends on luck and occasion. I am not complaining about my current situation but just want to know more ways to increase my chance to change to my desired job and industry. Anyway, I had prepared for the worst scenario, which is continuing to stay in my current job until my retirement.

Sorry to have so many paragraphs and hope you understand I just want to let you understand more about my situation. Thank you very much!

Leave a comment
Anonymous's picture
Posted Saturday, 02 July 2011 10:05 AM

I recommend you to take the myers-briggs test online. This will give you an idea of the kind of personality you are, and related to this are a set of recommended careers. Although many people say that this is not very accurate, but it does tie into the business of finding a true vocation for Oneself. I believe a little in this particular method.

With regards to what you have written. I genuinely believe that you seem to have analytical skills. I myself came from a chemistry background, and I find myself being analytical all the time. However, it still does not mean that I can do certain jobs. So, to enter an industry which you have no experience of, then you got to extract the "transferable skillset", from your existing position, and cross-sell it into the new one. Do so in the CV. "Although I do not have this experience, but I understand that this position requires xy, and in my last roles, I did xyz to exhibit these skills."

market research = researching skills
BSc project = research skills
executive officer = researching skills in xyz

1 - reading the market trend, what is up and what is down, and why, what are the driving forces ?
2 - what is the effective way to market a product, and get people to buy it ?
3 - how to sell something in a new way ? e.g. how to sell sushi made in HK to the Japanese ?

Marketing is finding ways to make more money for the company. It does not matter if you know ALL the business facts in the industry. They are of no use to an interview, or speculative employers. They want to know if you can think laterally and cross sell their products or find effective ways to sell their products, or use tiny tiny marketing budgets that will earn high volume sales. THIS is what marketing is all about.

If you can give good ideas, and good decent examples, then you are onto a winner. Marketing is also about understanding the different mediums to market too. TV ads, posters, email-shoots, online marketing etc etc etc. All these type of marketing styles, you can find and understand from online journals or in marketing books.

I would recommend that the next time you get an interview, research on where the company's direction is going, and what they are trying to sell next. Or to use an existing product of theirs, and come up with genuinely good workable marketing strategies, with good well-researched reasonings. If your idea is truly good, then I am so certain that they will hire you based on this approach.

I also recommend that you watch some episodes of the UK Apprentice. It shows you some of their marketing exercises, and you can learn from the experience of the candidates. FMCG is the way to go for marketing jobs, and I can assure you that, think back to basics, and from the viewpoint of the customer, if you were to buy the product. This will give you a lot of ideas on how to better the sales, and how to increase sales volume etc.

Anonymous's picture
Posted Monday, 11 April 2011 07:55 AM

Hi Mavis!

Thank you very much for your reply.
May I inquire more details about freelance work? What position would the marketing team need for their events? Also, where can I get such information?
Thanks a lot!!

Anonymous's picture
Posted Saturday, 08 January 2011 05:53 PM

Why don't you try taking on some freelance work on the side? A lot of marketing teams require additional staff during events. This would be a good way for you to gain some experience, as well as make some connections in the industry.

Anonymous's picture
Posted Wednesday, 29 December 2010 09:49 PM

Dear Career Doctor

Thank you very much for your reply and your encouragement!

I understand that there is no guarantee in life, what I want to express is “Work for the best, prepare for the worst”, even sometimes it is quite disappointing for my current situation.

I also understand your viewpoint about no "Master's degree" can work magic and your viewpoint about selling my most relevant to the prospective employer. However, most employers will not invite a person to have an interview with them after they know that person does not have any relevant working experience and qualification. Thus, no matter how hard I prepare, I still cannot get the "entry" ticket – interview, in order to get my desirable job. To deal with it, do you mean if someone has enthusiasm for certain job field, he/she will try all means to get it done no matter how hard it is? I had tried different ways suggested from some books about career in USA, such as submit the job application to the future boss instead of HR. However, most of the suggestions do not work, may be because of the cultural difference between HK and USA. Are there any other ways can be applied in HK?

For the evidence of my enthusiasm, I spend most of my free time to enhance my business knowledge through reading different books, articles, news and magazine about business. Even I am travelling through public transport daily, I also use my phone to read different business articles as not to waste any minutes.

One of the skills required in business research job is good analytical skills, and my final year project (FYP) experience during my university study can prove it. My FYP is to analyze the effective ingredients in a medicine. During the FYP, I need to conduct a series of experiments and analyze the data collected to sort out what is the active ingredient in that medicine. Apart from that, I also need to research the information of that medicine thoroughly (such as searching in the internet and library) to aid my analysis. This FYP experience is very similar to business research, both requires deep research for a topic and analyze the information and data collected. At the end of my FYP, the professor was pleased with my analysis and the experimental result.

Hope the above information can let you know more for my situation!

Dear PC

Thank you very much for your encouragement too! We have similar situation and you work very hard to change your job field. Hope that we can get what we want in the future!

Anonymous's picture
Posted Tuesday, 28 December 2010 11:21 AM

I am in the same situation like Fu. Some differences are that I am 31 and work in an IT Department of a government authority. It sounds good but the situation I face in the company is LOW salary, NO promotion in IT Department though there are tens of new positions and promotion in other departments, and I keep receiving rejection after interviews for a year.

I have been worked in that IT Department for over 3 years without any promotion although I have got a good grade in my appraisal. Guys in other departments are being kept to be promoted for less than 2 years. Even though there were new IT services, we did not get extra resources to handle the extra workload. However, when other departments provided new services, they got new staff and new promotion headcounts.

I have been worked in 5 different companies since my graduation. The reason I changed my job each time was that I foresaw no opportunity in that company. This time, the same, but I could not change as easily as I did in the past.

I have been shortlisted in the waiting list of one of the government discipline force but after waiting for a year, I finally got no call from them. I am interested in information security and so I have spent my time in studying and finally got a certificate of CISSP. I kept moving. I got an MSc last year. I know Master's degree is not a magic but it is an entry ticket (which still costs me a hundred thousands).

You know, after reading the company circular today, I am really desperate. In the list of promotion and posting, there are over twenty guys but no one in IT. I feel better after knowing the case of Fu and reading the comment from Career Doctor. I will not give up and I hope Fu can keep going to break the walls.

By the way, I would like to change my job to information security. Besides CISSP, what else should I need? I was rejected after a number of interviews and I think the reason is that I do not have related working experience.

Career Doctor's picture
Career Doctor  
Posted Friday, 24 December 2010 03:18 PM

It's never good going to "extremes"! And we all know there are no guarantees in life. We can't always immediately get what we want no matter how hard we try, that's a norm! There are always walls and obstacles in front of us. Do you know why? Those walls and obstacles are there to stop and repel those who don't want to reach and achieve their goals badly enough. They won’t stop those who're determined and dedicated and would never ever quit until we get what we want. Do you understand?

It's easy feeling defeated, frustrated, depressed ... etc. etc. for not getting what we want. Don't forget that life is a marathon. Even if you’ve missed this race, there're a lot more lying ahead for you, so you need to keep on going and trying. Come on, it's about perseverance!

You're spending too much time and effort "calculating" and "reasoning". And it’s all from your own perspective! And as my loyal reader you should know no "Master's degree" can work magic, whatever you studied for your first degree it is never a barrier but an "entry" ticket.

Honestly, I can sense your eagerness, so desperately wanting to get into the field you want, but no enthusiasm! While I appreciate your time and sincerity posting in this question and explaining your situation, I’m sorry but I'm not sold nor convinced to say the least.

Alright, you say you know what the Research job calls for, can you write one that serves the purpose of an "evidence" to prove that YOU CAN and to "sell" yourself successfully for the role?

Spend some time to absorb and rethink, I want you to tell me if you can read my "message"! This is perhaps the best Christmas present I can give to you, I do hope you'll like it.

No need to rush though. Relax please, it's no debate here after all! Write back to me after the holidays, OK? And hope you have a great one. Let’s take this up in the New Year.

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