Embarking on a new career journey is exciting – but it can also be a bit frustrating. Many jobs require “experience,” but how can you get that experience if you’re just starting out? Instead of throwing in the towel, take these strategic steps to launch your career today.
Take an Honest Self-Inventory
Study job descriptions of the positions you’re seeking and identify potential gaps in your skills and experience. Next, think about ways you can close those gaps. You may need to take an online course or even pursue a certification in order to prove your skills. You can still pursue jobs while you are learning as long as you include classes on your resume and address your commitment to development in your cover letter.
Highlight Transferable Skills
Everyone has weaknesses, so if you’re working to overcome yours, don’t dwell on them too much. While you’re studying and closing your gaps, focus on the transferable and soft skills that make you a great candidate. They can include things like aptitude for learning, curiosity, communication, problem-solving skills, listening, working well as both an individual and a team member, etc. Feature these prominently in your application and discuss them during your interview.
Learn How to Flip the Script
In every job interview, you’ll be asked to identify your weaknesses. Do not be tempted to skirt the issue. Show self-awareness and flip the script, turning a negative into a positive. For example, “While I am not an expert in Excel, I consider myself an intermediate user on my way to becoming an expert. I learn very quickly and I’m proud to say I taught myself pivot tables and those are now one of my favorite features of the program.”
Lean on Your Network
Networking exists for a reason. Talk to everyone you know about your job search – family, friends, neighbors, people you volunteer with, past professors, past co-workers, etc. Let people know what you’re looking for and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results. People know people, and it’s quite possible that someone can make an introduction that could lead to a job opportunity.
Take an Internship
If you’re struggling to find a job, an internship could be the answer. Internships allow you to gain real-world experience in your field. It adds a great line to your resume, shows your commitment and if you play your cards right, a post-graduation internship could ultimately lead to a job offer.
Take on Temporary or Contract Work
Companies are not always hiring full-time employees, but there are a plethora of temporary and contract jobs available. This can be a great way to build experience, earn a paycheck, learn about the work environments that best suit you, and you can get the opportunity to work in different fields. Like an internship, temporary and contract jobs can also be parlayed into a full-time job if you find a company where you flourish.
Set Realistic Expectations – But Don’t Sell Yourself Short
It is important to have realistic expectations for your job search. If you graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, you’re not qualified for MBA-level jobs (or salaries). Make sure to study and learn what entry-level roles pay in your field and the types of job titles you are qualified to pursue.
On the flip side, don’t sell yourself short. Don’t accept a job that pays a non-living wage and don’t assume you have to settle for a job making coffee runs and taking out the garbage. A good first job is out there – one that pays well and allows you to use and build your skills.
Don’t Engage in Negative Self-Talk
A job search can be emotionally draining, but it pays to remember that every professional in every field has also struggled with taking that first step. Rejections can damage your self-esteem; just keep in mind that every “no” leads to a “yes,” and that the right job is out there for you.
Partner With an Expert
Working with a recruiter can alleviate a lot of the frustration associated with a job search and increase the chances you’ll find a great job that excites you. Recruiters will match you to jobs that align with your skills and goals, and they can connect you with hidden opportunities that aren’t advertised to the public.
Whether you’re a recent graduate, re-entering the workforce or just looking to make a career change, reach out to an expert recruiter in your desired field today.
If you need help building a great team at your company, connect with the group at Harvard Resource Solutions. We provide the talented candidates your organization needs. Schedule a meeting with us at your earliest convenience.