So, you’re either on the brink of starting your career, or making a major career change. You’ve graduated with a degree or maybe even an advanced degree, but you just can’t seem to get an interview. Or, you get an interview only to be told that you did great but they need someone who has more experience in the role or industry….
This is something that we hear every single day. I recently re-watched an old Michael J. Fox movie, “The Secret to My Success.” The creativity that Bradley (MJF) employed to get his foot in the door reminded me of this very issue. While I would not recommend going to those extreme lengths, there may be some alternative ‘think outside the box’ options to consider in order to help make up for a lack in experience. Before you make the decision that you wasted your time and money on school, or that you are destined to ‘top out’ in your current position, or that you’ll have to forfeit your dream of working in the field of your passion, do a reality check. There are a number of questions to ask yourself before you throw in the towel.
Is your resume truly reflective of all your knowledge and experience?
Your resume needs to include all of your experience with each employer including the actual title of your role, not a gimmicky title you used around the office. For example, if you were known as the Chief Guru of Records, list your title appropriately as the Supervisor of Medical Records Department. The former doesn’t tell a realistic story of the importance of your role within that organization, while the latter is straight forward and more accurate. (Here are some standard position titles that may help you determine what to write.) I tell candidates every day, “Consider your resume your first interview.” If your resume does not convey that you have the necessary skills, education, and experience, you’ve ruined your chance at a knock-out first impression.
Is all of your past experience, including internships and volunteer activities included on your resume?
We often see this type of experience left off of a resume because it was unpaid. Whether an internship or volunteer role was paid or not, it’s still a fantastic opportunity to showcase the experience gained and your willingness to dedicate yourself to a cause. If you have relevant experience that will supplement your degree or paid experience, add it!
Are you being realistic in your job search?
I have heard the following story many times, “I just earned my MBA so I’m looking for a $95,000 salary. Salary comps in my area show that’s what someone with my title should earn.” While this may be true, those comps include all similar positions, including those with many years of experience. Expecting a high-level compensation without the experience to back it up is just unrealistic. You cannot expect to demand a top salary right out of the gate. A new race horse, no matter how good their training, is not signed up to run the Kentucky Derby for their first race.
Most importantly, be prepared to do what it takes!
You may need to prepare yourself to take a role lower on the totem pole and work your way up. If you find an organization that is looking for volunteers, consider it as a way to get your foot in the door. Get yourself noticed by networking on LinkedIn and taking on tasks that put you in the limelight of the hiring managers.
Consider your job search your new job. The phone will not ring on its own, so devote the time to make calls and establish connections. Do not rely solely on assistance from advisors, professors, or your network. Instead, invest your time in networking with industry and hiring professionals who can help you gain traction. Make sure you are putting in the work to reach your goals!