Image: #WOCinTech Chat
Written by Natalia Saavedra
I have a non-traditional path to branding, marketing and technology. I went to school for International Relations & Pre-Law and utilized my time in college to do internships with the United Nations and law firms. To any outsider looking in, I was setting myself up for success in my field. In reality, I wanted to take a completely different path and had no idea where to start. I saw a post for what looked to be my dream job, but I felt like I had zero work experience.
How was I going to get this job?
Sound familiar? If not, personally, has a friend shared this concern?
Let’s go back to that dream job I saw posted. My first concern was my resume. How was I going to get the company to look at my resume?
To ensure that your resume and cover letter are solid, regardless of your unrelated experience, here are three easy-to-follow tips to presenting yourself in the best way possible:
1. Define Your Transferable Skills
It’s true, most resumes begin with your education and relevant work experience. While you may not have related work experience, take inventory of your skills.
Having trouble figuring out those skills? Start by researching the role you’re interested in and figure out exactly what skills are necessary for the role. Then make a list of your skills.
In my case, while helping the United Nations plan a conference, I was in charge of planning the youth program. One of my tasks was getting youth interested in participating at this conference. So, when it came to the marketing position I was applying for, I could list applicable skills like event planning, networking and community building, among others for the company.
2. Include Any Related Side Hustles, Academic or Volunteering Experience
Don’t just look at work experience, what do you do in your free time? Do you have any passion projects that are related to the job you’re interested in? There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t include them on your resume. Hobbies, volunteering, and projects are all fair game in trying to get that desired job.
What skills did you gain from these projects that are related to the position? As you pick the projects you want to include on your resume, make sure to ask yourself how this project showcases the skills needed for that position you’re applying for.
This is the most important part. Don’t include something for the sake of filling up your resume. If it doesn’t possess value or relevant to the position you’re applying for, don’t add it!
3. Nail Your Cover Letter
Cover letters are great opportunities to set yourself apart from a large pool of applicants. Here’s how to knock it out of the park with your cover letter:
Don’t summarize your resume. Think of your cover letter as a personalized message that will make the hiring manager want to look at your resume. Cover letters should give employers a good grasp of who you are and why you would make a good fit in the company.
Personalize the cover letter and demonstrate the research you’ve done on the company. This will set you apart.
Keep it to one page. True to its name, it’s a letter so keep it to a page. Anything more is too long.
Make sure your cover letter connects the dots for you, especially if you have little work experience. Use your cover letter to highlight your passions and explain how your non-traditional background will be an asset to the company you’re applying for.
Applying to a new job is not easy, especially if you feel like you have little experience. But trust me, it can be done. Get creative and think outside the box. Think hard on the experience and skills you possess that are pertinent to the position. Think of all the ways you can best position yourself and act on them. Include an exciting cover letter, find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and send them a personalized note. Also, look within your network to see if you know anyone who currently works at the company. Last, but not least, don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back. Keep applying to similar positions because it’s only a matter of time before you get the job you desire.