3 Ways To Get Experience For Your Next Job

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or interested in switching industries, you’re often left with the same question, “How do I get my foot in the door?”

You can apply to hundreds of jobs, but the fact is, you simply don’t have the experience needed for the position.

This can be extremely frustrating, especially for those that have already spent a significant amount of time in the workforce. “Did someone say unpaid internship?!? I have bills now!”

Regardless of where you are currently in your career, as you transition it’s important to take a step back and analyze where you see yourself in the next 5, 10, 15 years. If that’s not in the same industry, then it’s time to take a slice of humble pie and get your hands dirty again.

Here are 3 ways to get the experience you need to land your first or next job:

*These examples lean more into careers within the marketing, advertising, PR, event planning and creative industries*

Yep. As much as we may not like giving our time away for free, volunteering is the best way to gain exposure and get your foot in the door. Unlike an unpaid internship, volunteering is often on your time and on your terms. You won’t have to give up your job completely and the lift is often lighter. This is the easiest way to get exposure to the job or field and start building your professional network.

Do The Job Yourself
This is the absolute best way to show you’re capable of doing or creating something. Big brands come with big budgets. You, a young millennial with limited discretionary income, have to be super conscious about how and where you spend your coins. If you’re able to grow your social audience from 500 to 4,000 in 3 months time with only a $100 paid media budget, you are fucking winning. And, despite the big budgets that brands have, they’ll always want to do things at the lowest cost. Showing that you can work within confined boxes while also producing extraordinary results will always make you stick out from other applicants.

Informational Interviews
I struggle with this sometimes because no one person’s path to their job will be the same as the next person’s. It also reminds me of those ridiculous “If you could have $1M or a 1-hr dinner with Jay-Z/Warren Buffet, which one would you take?” questions. I’M TAKING THE MONEY, ALEX!

Despite that, for an informational interview to be truly beneficial for you, ask less of the “how did you get here?” or “how do you like the job?” questions and more that focus on the job you’d be doing and how you can become a qualified candidate.

For example, if you’re looking to get a job in Social Strategy and you’re talking to the Head of Social Strategy you could ask questions like:

  • How do you define social strategy?
    While titles may be similar throughout various companies, the job position and responsibilities could be completely different from what you initially imagined. It’s important to begin the conversation by level-setting on what exactly the department/role does.

  • What professional characteristics and skill set should someone in this position have in order to be successful?
    If you’re talking to someone who could potentially be your boss, this gives you direct insight into who they think their strongest team members are and why. It also gives you a cheat code into what skills you need to develop in order to snag the role.

  • What’s the most successful social component of a campaign that you’ve created?
    This usually leads them to talk about their most exciting project and you can see which types of clients they’re most interested in and why.

  • From a campaign point of view, why was it successful? What metrics did you use to track success?
    This question allows you to get more into the nitty gritty of the campaign and see how well it performed compared to others. Additionally, you’re able to see what metrics are most important to them, and as you get more work experience and begin tracking your own campaigns, you’re aware of what to pay the most attention to. It also shows you what metrics to include within your resume. We’re here for cheat codes guys, stay with me.

  • From a client business point of view, why was it successful?
    This is a SUPER important question. At the end of the day, the reason these campaigns are going into the world is to solve a business issue. Ensure you understand the issue the clients were trying to solve when they approached the company and how the campaign lead to their ROI (return on investment).

BONUS - Never fully negate your past experience
After having these informational interviews and understanding the job completely, go back and analyze the work you’ve done in the past. Do you have any transferable skills? Never completely negate experience you’ve done in a different industry. Sometimes there’s a hidden thread that you would’ve never noticed had you not had the information interviews.

Additional questions? Shoot me an email.

Netta Dobbins