So much of my time was consumed trying to apply for jobs without any experience at all. It never occurred to me that my empty resume may have been the reason I wasn’t getting interviews. I kept receiving rejection e-mails day after day, but I just continued applying without changing anything. Results were, of course, the same.
My approach was entirely wrong
Getting my foot on the door took me over a year. To give you a more specific timeline, I applied for a job around July 2016. I was hired for my first related job on October 2017.
During my unemployment gap, these are the things I did to finally start on myself:
- I maximized my time to figure out what I wanted
- I accepted freelance projects
- I exerted my effort in a non-related job
- I applied for internships
- I started moving on professionally
1. Narrow down your interests
Finding your purpose can be so frustrating. You may do it differently than I did, but just a little tip: don’t base your long-term career goals solely on your degree. Sure, it would be amazing if you ended up at a profession closely tied to your college program, but what if it’s just not for you?
New passions are triggered when you try new things. As for me, it was writing, digital marketing, and social media rolled into one. Hence, Newyorkrcheats and my Thought Catalog phase (lol as funny as it sounds, these two things became strong points early on in my resume and have always been the topic at my interviews!). Simply from trying things out, I saw social media more than just a platform of entertainment. It’s a full-time job and actually a huge chunk of my current job!
2. Look for freelance jobs
Freelancing was the first gig I got paid for. I edited, proofread, and translated surveys. I also wrote product descriptions for a gifting website just to get me by. However, these weren’t exactly leading me to my career goals. I then decided that it wasn’t worth my time and effort, so I ventured into something new.
I was drawn to this opportunity by chance. It was never something I wanted to do long term, but I developed skills that encompassed patience, extreme attention to detail, and time management—all of which were important in building my character.
3. Work any job for a while
To sustain my financial needs like being able to afford public transportation for interviews, I had to do it. I worked 6am shifts at Jamba Juice about three to four times a week, including weekends. I have so much respect for people in this industry. Lifting heavy blenders, mopping floors, making 10 smoothies during rush hour, and standing for 7 and a half hours is no joke.
Now you might be wondering, how does this relate to getting the job you exceedingly want? Well, it is during these times that you question how much your dream job truly means to you. It stretches your desire to chase the real deal and cuts you from slacking off because you badly want to get to your destination. That’s how it helped me get to my next point.
4. Consider Internships – Paid or unpaid
If you have finally come to realize that no company is exactly open to accepting anyone without relative experience, being an intern may just be your solution. At this point, I no longer had the energy to debate whether I should just accept an unpaid internship or wait for a paid opportunity.
I decided to be more optimistic and focused on what I would be gaining work-wise that would be of help in the future, rather than the fact that I wasn’t paid for my time. I first interned at a bag advertising company while also interning at a TV/Film hub. It took me three unpaid months to complete these and these experiences have always made it to my resume.
5. Finally, don’t get stuck in one job
When you land a job, whether you love it or hate it, leaving is never an easy choice. I guess it has something to do with being in your comfort zone that anything new scares you. I’m also the kind of person who prefers to stick to one thing just because it’s predictable and safe—the routine, the people, and the job itself—and that is exactly that one small thing I decided to change with myself.
I worked as an Office/Social Media Coordinator in the beauty industry, specifically in a makeup school, for about 10 months. I enjoyed it there, loved everyone I got to work with, but I knew I needed to grow further. It was a tough decision for me to leave because I was immensely attached to my kindhearted co-workers.
Working at a job that closely mirrored my interests gave me an unclouded picture of what it was I needed to do next. It was clear to me that I wanted to steer my path to all things marketing and social media. I needed to work on my professional growth, and I was very sure that I still had so much to learn to achieve my goal. So I moved on to accept a Marketing Assistant position at a luxury lighting industry where every day I am developing technical skills in line with what I really dream of.
No experience is not an excuse
Getting experience does not only spring from being employed. If you’re sincerely interested in your preferred industry, you will do even the tiniest of things to get yourself started. It’s all about showing your potential employers that you’re a self-starter and a go-getter. Passion is also crucial because it’s one thing that can never be bought. However, employers don’t just want to see eagerness without results so always translate your passion into actions.