“I want to make a career pivot, but nobody will hire me without relevant experience.”
I believe that Creatives can make whatever career pivot they want. Hiring managers generally don’t share that belief. Here’s how you change their minds:
If you want a new job that requires new experience, don’t wait for an employer to assign you that work. Just go do it.
A very talented apparel designer called me last week. She wants to pivot from streetwear to performance. She’s running into walls because hiring managers can only see her lengthy background in streetwear.
But she is in control of her portfolio. If she identifies as a performance designer, nobody’s stopping her from creating performance designs on her own time. Once she does that — boom. She has demonstrable experience in performance.
Unlike resumes, portfolios exist to convey your ability, not your paid experience. Hiring managers don’t care which designs were adopted by an employer and which were done independently. In fact, when I see a design portfolio consisting only of work done for full time employers, it’s very hard for me to imagine that person as a self-starter, or “entrepreneurial”.
That matters, because the #1 characteristic that every relevant employer is looking for is — you guessed it — “entrepreneurial.”
Intro Limited once did a Creative Director search for (insert the most avant-garde fashion brand you can imagine). Among many others, we showed them a candidate who was employed at (insert the most boring fast fashion brand you can imagine).
The client was very interested in that candidate. Why?
Because alongside her fast fashion job, she had been doing highly tasteful freelance and personal projects nonstop — building a tangible body of work around her true interests.
Her portfolio shows everything she can do, but is weighted toward what she wants to do.
Build the skills you want, integrate them into your professional identity, and move toward who you want to be.
Photo credit: L'Art de L'Automobile