The struggle to get a job without experience and experience without a job not only belongs to those fresh out of high school or college, it belongs to Career Changers as well. How do you get experience before you get the job? You make it.
The jobs you’re applying for are intentional. You want them because of what you can do, make, or what it means for you to get that role. Now, think about what those offering that role want from you: to do the work with minimal additional training. This is why you are more likely to get a job you’ve already done.
Career 1 – Editing
My first career was as a video editor in the broadcast news industry. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism which afforded me two internships on different teams at the same local TV station. Those unpaid real-world work experiences lead to part-time work at the same station. Repeated practice and persistence at my craft eventually lead to my getting a job at another TV station near my hometown.
Career 2 – Training
When I left TV it was to become a software trainer. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a full career change because I was still leveraging my skills and connections within the Broadcast News industry, but this whole new way of working came about because others saw how fast I would learn and be able to share what I knew so they offered me these new roles.
Then something started to change in 2009 and I could tell the work and the jobs were drying up. I landed a role at Microsoft that leveraged the training experience I had developed. I was able to re-frame my ability to learn new software into a love for technology and training that engaged audiences.
Career 3 – Coaching
During my time at Microsoft I not only went back to school and earned a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and trained in the co-active coaching method. I then started my coaching practice, developed my first workshops, and wrote and published my first two books all geared toward this nature-based coaching practice I call Sacred Time.
When I left Microsoft I had the foundation of my coaching practice in place, and continued to build it both full-time and as a side-hustle for the last four years. I now work as a coach, not just in my own practice, but for at least two other businesses. This opportunity was only made possible because I was already doing the work necessary on the side – from coaching, to working with LinkedIn, to creating workshops. This work was paid and unpaid but it was still work, and if you are preparing for or needing to create a new career I advise you to start now, even if it means it is a Side Hustle to your Job Search.
Make it Work
So here are some key ways that you can make your own experience:
- Volunteer / Intern – Experience and work are not the same thing, that means you don’t have to get paid to get experience, you just have to produce a product or project you can show and tell others about.
- Persistent Practice – Create tangible examples you can share that demonstrates application and experience.
- Develop new skills – Learn and try new things apart from what you’re doing for work or during your job search, the key is to make them relevant for the job you now want.
- Look for different jobs within the industry – Examine all the points of contact your job, department, or company has with the rest of the industry, and see if can simply change jobs within the industry so your previous experience still counts.
- Reframe your skills – Even if you have to draw a mind-map for yourself first, illustrate how the work you want to do relates to the work you’ve already done.
- Hustle on the side – Build the experience you need either before you leave your current job, or while you’re conducting your job search.
Pick at least one of these new ways of working and step out in it for the next three months.
How have you created your own experience?