How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

EdTech Goes Retro

LDTlogosOn August 2, Stanford’s Learning Design & Technology (LDT) Expo showcased a diverse array of creative projects addressing a gamut of problems in education, proving that innovations in education aren’t limited to solving problems in a specific field, demographic, or country. Although the expected screens, tablets, and computers crowded the demo floor, a surprising number of the LDT projects involved more whimsical and charming tangible objects: railroad cars, wooden forts, and even tea sets.

Add an edtech expo, you’d expect most projects to focus on the K12 demographic, but Maketea actually targeted an older demographic, specifically, couples. It is essentially a date night kit comprised of a set of teaware, tea leaves, and a downloadable app that walks a couple through an intimate tea ceremony with reflection questions to help them better understand each other. It was a unique way to ground discussion in an experience that was a bit unexpected for a learning design and technology expo, but definitely not far from many other projects that seemed to use technology as a facilitator rather than the main interactive educational element.

Tink teaches kids programming concepts with colorful, tangible elements. Tink had various elements that could be programmed and coordinated with an iPad to take certain actions depending on the environment or stimulus nearby, perhaps playing a song when your mom came into the room, etc. The minds behind Tink also created Dr. Wagon, a tangible way to learn programming with wooden railroad cars labeled with programming language to help kids visualize the changes that they were implementing with their code — a crafty sensor in the main wagon sensed the changes and order of the rail cars and would react accordingly. When I asked Tink’s co-founder Alfredo Sandes about the rationale behind Tink, he mentioned that he’s found that research shows tangible objects tend to stimulate kids more than visual stimulants. Another STEM skill-building project was DesignDuo, a kit of projects that daughters and dads can build together. The project includes the parts and directions to configure mini lamps and even decorate their creations with paint, proving that engineering and science are collaborative and creative. Worlds, another project designed to introduce kids to programming, leveraged kids interest in gaming, in your world, you control your characters by typing in the correct code.

One of the LDT favorites Hüga Forts engaged kids in collaborative problem-solving with simple wooden panes and connecting cogs. Each wooden square could be decorated or filled with alternative embellishments: a tic-tac-toe board, mini blinds, translucent sheets of painted paper, among many others. Because of the unique design of the cogs, the wooden squares could be connected together to form a variety of shapes and especially fun forts!

When I think of these projects–and so many more from the Expo–I can’t help but think that we live in exciting times for education. Not only are there so many new topics to learn about, but so many different ways to begin and continue learning. Which of the projects interested you the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s cooking in edtech!

Make All Your Education Count: Redesigning the CV

With all the amazing innovations and developments within academia and edtech at the moment, one content area that seems to have been left behind a little is the common CV.

Education has evolved dramatically over the last fifty years yet things like CVs and certificates haven’t changed for hundreds of years. They are (at best) shiny pieces of paper with a name, grade and institution printed on them.

CVs tend to contain very pigeon-hole style of content such as ‘education’, ‘work’ and ‘interests’ which ultimately only create a very low resolution image of a person and one that is liable to deception.

For example, if you get a B in Computer Science does that mean you were generally ‘average’, or are you an exceptional programmer with a weakness in some other part of the syllabus that isn’t relevant to the job at hand? 

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Here at Accredible, we’ve been working hard to improve the way that credentials and certificates are generated across MOOCs, university courses also as wider learning by using peer-review and
reputational networks to determine and maintain quality.

By re-imagining the idea of the certificate to be more than just a statement, we can create a living portfolio of evidence that shows you have certain knowledge or skills. You can also get a much ‘higher resolution’ image of who a student is, what they can do and a list of evidence proving that.

And this is where we feel there’s a parallel between our work on credentials and CVs: rather than simply listing your achievements, we feel that you should be able to provide evidence to back up your claims, be they across your education, work or skills.

Below is an example of one of our MOOC slates giving examples about how this approach could be similarly used to demonstrate your personal capabilities on a CV:

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Unlike your traditional certificate or CV, you can create as many Slates as you like, each with a different course or program you studied to help build up a more rounded vision of your education.

Of course there’s also a direct benefit to your prospective employer as well as it gives them a much better chance to understand who you really are and why you really are perfect for their role. With greater transparency, comes better hiring decisions and a much lower risk of hiring the wrong candidate!

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the future of CVs and how developments in the EdTech space are changing the way we list our achievements. Is there still a place for CVs and if so in what sort of context? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Do you want brand-new CV of 21st century? Sign up at https://www.accredible.com 

Need inspiration or don’t know where to begin? Here’s some amazing slates to help you. https://www.accredible.com/gallery