How to get an employer’s attention with little experience and an irrelevant degree

If you really want that job, make yourself impossible to be ignored.

Be the human they pick by being the one human in a crowd of attachments

I went to university and earned a degree in one field only to be completely disenchanted with it soon after graduation. Fortunately, I knew what I’d rather be doing with most of my life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford more schooling to go the traditional route. Here’s what worked.

Move forward with what you have

First, be positive about your situation! It is absolutely possible to get into many professions without following the typical degree path and sometimes even without any previous related experience.

Displaying honest enthusiasm for the work and company you are applying to is a good start, but employers rarely higher simply based on enthusiasm. Managers often need to justify hiring a candidate to their own boss and company bean counters so they must have something to justify bringing on your smiling face than just all those good feelings they have about you.

Establish a foundation

If you are seriously interested in your new career path, it’s likely that you have already begun exploring articles, videos and webinars on related topics. Afterall, how did you become so certain you wanted to pursue this new glorious career in the first place?

Before applying to all those amazing, life changing positions you need to establish a solid foundation. Let’s say, for example, that you want to break into social media marketing or eventually become an SEO expert. It doesn’t take long to come to grips with the basic art and science of these, and many, professions enough to apply to entry level job openings.

Watch everything you can find on YouTube, Skillshare and Vimeo. Look for a highly rated webinar and get on the mailing list specialist blogs then exhaust their past posts. You won’t need to be an expert, but with the internet at your fingertips it’s inexcusable not to wring out all the foundational knowledge that is freely or cheaply available.

It may be jargon but it gets the job done.

Talk the talk

While you are accumulating this knowledge, create a list of all the specialist terminology as you come across it. Every job has a specialized vocabulary and “Talking the talk” in your cover letter and interviews will go a long way to placing you on the candidate shortlist not to mention serve you well when you do land that job.

Research responsibilities

To get that additional something and earn their confidence as well as their attention, research the details of the advertised position and similar jobs at other companies. Find out the details of every job responsibility listed in the job ad then use the new knowledge from those blogs and webinars to be able to talk in as much detail as possible about what goes into fulfilling the responsibilities.

Polish your resume

Spend one day polishing your resume by copying the best examples you can find on the internet. There are plenty of clear and concise ways to shine on paper and the most popular layouts vary by profession. Regardless of which layout you settle on recognize that, with a lack of solid experience, you will need to list your new skills and knowledge at the top. Next list any positions that included any remotely relative experience. It’s not a crime to order them by relevance instead of chronologically. Remember, the goal of the resume is to sell the version of you that is the best candidate for the job.

Now make your resume immaterial

What? I hear you exclaim as you spit your coffee across your laptop. I just spent a day making my resume amazing!

Your resume is still required and important once you get your future boss’ attention. Managers at least want something to remember you by but they have dozens or maybe hundreds of resumes to weed through and you are unlikely to stand out in that slush pile. A virtual piece of paper is not going to land that job.

Go to the job listing for the job you want the most. Chances are, the job ad links to some badly designed online form or lists a generic email address to send your cover letter and resume to. Go ahead and follow the instructions for applying so you can at least say that you followed instructions, but don’t stop there. Find out who the likely manager or decision maker over this position is. It’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. His or her name is out on the internet somewhere, possible along with a photo on a company or association web page. Google the company name and the most likely title of the position. You will often find results pointing to LinkedIn or Twitter. Once you have identified the right person, or narrowed it down to the best candidate, locate their email address and phone number. It’s probably listed a hundred times on various websites. No one is anonymous any more. Thanks Google!

Your next and most crucial step is to contact them directly and demonstrate your enthusiasm and ability to “talk the talk.” That’s why all that prep I went on and on about is so crucial.

I cover the specific steps to make this a no brainer exercise in my more detailed article Online job applications are killing your career. Here’s how to crush them.

I highly encourage you to grab the exact steps from that article and follow them for each job you are seriously applying for. It’s a solid strategy that will get you a job.

And if the strategy of reaching out on a human level makes you nervous, remember that if you do everything right, this person will your boss. You might as well start talking to them now.