As a young person looking for meaningful work that brings you one step close to your dream job, it’s common to have “resume shame”. You have experience in a few areas, but nothing for a long period of time. You’re hoping to stand out the next time you meet a hiring manager and there are a few ways to do that.
To stand out in the job market, you need to focus on taking roles that give you stackable skills very early on in your career. As an entrepreneur, every new venture gives me stackable skills that I take to the next one. The same can be done for job seekers.
I can’t stress how important it is to search for roles that are relevant to your dream career. If you want to be a sports analyst, selling hot dogs at the game won’t get you there anytime soon. Proximity doesn’t equal experience!
Take a look at what you want to be doing in a few years, and then examine the skillsets required to do that job. Find a role that teaches you one of those skills or introduces you to people who do the jobs you hope to do. Understand how people in that role think, work, and talk to get closer to where you want to be.
As young people, we have a lot of flexibility in our career paths. We haven’t been doing the same thing for 10+ years, so choose wisely if you don’t want to get stuck. People don’t work for the same company for 40 years then retire with a full pension and benefits. It sounds pretty boring besides the full pension, honestly.
To stay relevant and well paid in the job market you need to level up your skillsets and network constantly. If you can’t find a role that teaches relevant skills you can hop online and take a class on pretty much anything. That’s how I taught myself how to build a website, market online, how to start a podcast, blog, and much more.
If I wanted, I could get a pretty well paying job with the skills I’ve picked up in just the last two years. I've dedicated a lot of time every week to self guided education. By combining that with a lot of action, it has opened doors for me that I never would have imagined were possible. I was able to start a mobile app agency, a top 20 podcast, manage big projects, and meet amazing people. This is the power of self guided learning. Just don’t forget to apply that knowledge.
Focus on attaining stackable skills and you’ll be years ahead of people much older than you in no time. Your age doesn’t matter as much as your experience. Also, your experience doesn’t matter as much as your ability to tell the right stories.
People hire people - not resumes. Tell stories that people can connect with. Make sure they translate well into the role you’re applying for and they'll love it.
For example, I know someone who is applying to be in law enforcement. They told him that his four years of being a bartender are more highly valued than if he had been a security guard for four years. His ability to deal with the (often intoxicated) public, work quickly, and in a team are what stood out to them. This is a great example of stackable skills that translate well into a law enforcement career.
Here are three ways to start stacking your skills today, even if you’ve never had a job in your life.
Google / Youtube
It’s 2016 and almost everything is online for free. You can creep on Facebook all day and post memes, or you can learn about topics that make you more marketable.
Ask The Right People For Guidance
Find people who work or have worked in the industry you want to break into. Ask them this simple question: “What does it take to get started in this industry and what can I do to prepare myself for it?” You may have to ask a few people, but the answers will be priceless. They will also respect you for asking and may even introduce you to someone who is hiring!
There are tons of opportunities for volunteering, internships, or other forms of unpaid work. These are completely worth the time if it provides you stackable skills! If your internship is focused on data entry and bringing Jim coffee, I hope you plan on being an office assistant. Never feel guilty for turning down an opportunity that doesn’t fit for what your goals are. Life is too short!
Landing your dream job all comes down to skill building and networking. What can you do today or in the next six months that brings you closer to where you want to be? You can stay where you are, or you can learn and apply new knowledge. Never forget that you alone are in control of your career and your education!