We’ve all been there. You’ve applied to HUNDREDS of jobs and still can’t seem to get any viable interviews. The recruiter keeps saying you lack experience, even though the position says “entry level” and you’ve spent hours on your resume.
So what do you do when your current resume isn’t enough?
Create Your Own Experience.
Yes, you heard me.
Stop waiting for other people to give you opportunity and start building it yourself. By creating your own experience, you’ll expand your network and deepen your experience. Furthermore, you’ll be demonstrating your passion for your job or industry by showing that you’ve dedicated your time to working on your skills outside of the confines of a traditional 9 to 5. And Employers LOVE that.
So how exactly do you start? Here’s 5 easy steps for creating your own experience.
- Identify Your Goal
What is your goal at the end of this process? Is it a promotion? A total change in career? Specialty writing or speaking gigs? Write that down. What skills are you currently missing that would take your resume to the next level? Identify 3-4 of these and write that down too.
Now its time to start planning your method to getting there. Set a timeline for how long you’re going to work on building these skills. I recommend one month per skill so you can really deep dive into your new projects. Then identify which types of projects would showcase each skill best.
Try your best to stick to this calendar. Dedicate specific times throughout the week to focus on these goals to keep yourself accountable. It’s important to set a goal that’s reachable but pushes you to grow.
- Reach Out To Your Network For Opportunities
You are willing to learn. Find someone just as willing to teach.
Mentors, friends, and advisors are very important when you’re trying to pivot your career. Communicate with them that you are trying to improve your skills and could use their expertise.
If you can, reach out to someone currently in the job/field you want to be in. Ask them if you can shadow on some of their projects or do a mock session with them mirroring their day-to-day tasks. If you’re worried about bothering them, offer them compensation for their time, by buying coffee or breakfast for them in exchange. It’s a small gesture but shows your appreciation.
Remember, share your end-goal with your mentor, advisor, friend. He/she/ze may have a different idea about how to get you there or other connections you can utilize.
- Freelance, Side Hustle, Intern, You Name It
You can find experience anywhere. At this early stage, the thing you’re looking for most is a project you’re passionate about and that you can expand upon later. Here are some ideas that should fit almost any industry.
- Start a blog to share your passion for your work and to document your journey
- Re-create or improve a product or system currently in existence
- Get together with similar people in the industry to brainstorm new ideas and solutions to industry pain points
- Intern for a small company or solo founder who’s looking for help
- Freelance for local businesses, friends, and family
- Take online courses to help educate you on new subjects
There are endless job boards, facebook groups, slack channels, etc. dedicated to freelance work or trading services for learning opportunities. Use these resources to your advantage to find people you can work with.
- Ask For Formal Feedback
Get TONS of feedback on your progress from whoever you’ve been working with. If you’re freelancing for friends and family, ask them to write you a testimonial or LinkedIn Recommendation.
Not only does this help to legitimize your work, but the feedback may reveal something you may or may not have noticed.
Additionally, it provides you with a great network of past clients for referrals later in the future.
- Showcase Your Work
Be proud of yourself!
Stop keeping it all a secret! You’ve completed projects, presentations, pitchbooks, essays, and its time to show off your hard work. Remember, it’s always better to show than tell. People often don’t believe what they can’t see. So, don’t just add a blurb to your LinkedIn that says “freelancer,” show off your projects by featuring them on your profile!
Tell your friends and family about the progress you’ve made by sharing on social media. Create an easy portfolio or resume website on Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress to display your work. Social proof helps reinforce trust and credibility in your work, so SHOUT IT FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS, GIRL!
So go on, LEVEL UP and create your dream job.