Volunteer to Get Experience

Getting a foot in the door for any career can be a daunting experience. A first professional job can be difficult to get, especially for those without professional experience. Entry level postings are on many job boards and postings, but they seemingly have the dreaded ‘required experience’ attachment. Perhaps a year or two in the field is at best preferred, or at worst, required. There are jobs, but for someone with only a degree, little non-formal experience, or a certification of some sort, getting a start is often the hardest part. Experience is the key.

I often see resumes come in when we are hiring, and while I love to give people an opportunity, sometimes I cannot do so. I may see someone applying, and the resume is sparse and I can tell they are looking for that first opportunity. I can’t speak on behalf of hiring managers as a whole, but I love to give someone an opportunity, and am sure many others would love to as well.

This mindset needs to be balanced with the responsibility to the organization. There are training costs, efficiency loss, and time when bringing someone in. All things being equal, someone with tangible and formal experience will often get more consideration than someone without. If I bring in someone who gets in over their head, I can set back the organization significantly with the wrong hire. Sure, people get in and under-perform, even with quality experience, but without any knowledge, experience will always influence a hiring decision.

Volunteer to Get Experience

If experience is required for an entry level position, and you have none, what’s the next step? I always recommend doing some volunteer work. It takes time and planning, but you can get some experience to put on a resume. Even better, if you volunteer at a reputable organization, your good deed can be very rewarding on a personal level. One of the daunting first steps for anyone is to build up a network of contacts. Often times, many other volunteers are professionals, and are like-minded people. They can get to know you on a personal level and can be points of contact for opportunities.  Always let your work ethic be the key element to help your cause.  Lots of talk with the intention to network and dig for employment will be noticed and work against you.  A team-first attitude and good work ethic will speak on your behalf much more effectively to enhance your network.

Neutrality is Best

Help out the community and build your network, and you will be making the future just a bit easier. One word of warning. Keep in mind the attitudes and biases of possible hiring managers. If you volunteer for a political organization, keep in mind that future hiring managers may not be in alignment with your philosophy. My recommendations are to target charities that are neutral for non-political job postings.

Common sense will go a long way.  Want to get a job with the Republican or Democratic political parties?  Obviously, any volunteer work with organizations that support one or the other will be good to use.  Applying at a local bank for a job, a neutral, unbiased organization will be better.

Hiring managers will see tangible experience on your resume, and see that you are performing good deeds, which instantly enhances your character in their minds.  Get out and make a difference.

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My Mission: Welcome

As a senior manager in the Information Technology field, I field many questions about how to get a foot in the door.  I work at a large community college, and see firsthand young students who are studying for degrees in IT, but yet have very little to no experience.

It’s a “Catch-22” situation.  You want to get into the computer and technology field, and are working to a degree.  Entry level positions always seem to have a requirement for minimal experience.  Every posting seems to have a one to two year experience desires, and combined with the amount of professionals seeking employment, things can be daunting for the inexperienced.

Perhaps an individual has some knowledge, but no formal experience.  Someone may have a certification or two, but no experience.  How do you get that first job when you either have a degree or certification, but have little to nothing to put in the “Experience” section on an application or the resume seems to have way too much white space in it?

The purpose of this blog will be to provide some information to help get your foot in the door.  To get that first opportunity to get a career started.  As a hiring manager, I can attest to the amount of resumes and applications I see that lacking experience and/or education.  I hope to aid and assist those who may wish to progress in the profession.  Not just for things in the IT field, but in general.  For the most part, all the little things you can do to increase the odds are the same for everyone.

Welcome and let’s get this journey started…