I graduated from a Midwestern (US) college with degrees in both Chemistry and Sociology and I am currently teaching Chemistry in an inner city. However, I have always had a secret desire to work in Food Science and this past summer decided to pursue it!
I have learned a lot in the past few months–not only about the industry in general but also about how to get your foot in the door when you have zero experience.
What Has Worked For Me
Here are the 4 things that have worked best for me:
Disclaimer: I hate networking and small talk. Yet it is the #1 best thing you can do. Everyone wants to help people so if they know anyone in the field they are more than happy to connect you. I have started to drop my career transition into almost all conversations and have gotten amazing connections from it.
When talking to these connections I have gotten an inside look about the field in general, their own paths and frank advice on how I can get into it. Informational interviewing is extremely fruitful and I would highly suggest it.
At the end of the conversation I always ask “So what advice would you give someone in my position to do right now?” and 9/10 times they ask for my resume and see who they can forward it to–or if not at least offer to look it over for me.
Customize your resume to the job
After talking with many managers and directors, I’ve realized just how crucial the exact wording of your resume is. Especially if you don’t have industry experience, it’s important to highlight transferable soft skills.
For example, I want to go into product development and this position requires a lot of collaboration with other departments (marketing, manufacturing, quality control etc.) which I would be great at because of my past experience collaborating in grade teams with English, History and Math teachers in my middle school. The important thing is to make this connection come across in a single bullet point in my resume.
In addition, if you are new to the field I have been told to highlight literally any food experience. For me this was waitressing, planning ice cream experiments for my students, or learning to authentically cook rice and beans in Central America.
The resume black hole is a reality. Even if a job post says “No calls please” what they really mean is “No calls from people who don’t care”. I call and have a simple script I follow, asking when they are thinking of scheduling interviews. As daunting as this can seem, it works! I’ve had recruiters tell me “I put your resume on top of the 50 others because you called”. After a few calls it gets easier and starts to feel more natural!
Do your homework
Once you get the interview, you don’t want to be caught off guard. This means learn as much as you can about not only the company but also the people who will be speaking with you. Be ready for questions asking what you could contribute, what you know about their products and what ideas you have for them.
If you’re reading this then you are already on the right path. Doing homework to learn about the industry, I read every article and listen to Adam’s podcasts weekly. They are essentially informational interviews–with people in the Food Industry–you can listen to for free!
Author: Eliza Herrero
Do you have any advice? Did you have a lack of experience yet, break into the industry? How did you do it? Please share your comments.