When attempting to move up in creative careers, especially when switching fields, job seekers are haunted by one perennial frustration: it can be hard to get experience when you don’t already have experience.
Hiring managers and creative recruiters gravitate toward candidates who already have proven track records and know how to navigate the responsibilities that come with new opportunities. If you’re angling for a job or a career in an area in which your prior work history is not applicable or sufficient there are steps you can take to compensate for a lack of relevant professional experience. Career coach Martin McGovern suggests three moves that can open new opportunities that you may not be able to get with your CV alone.
“Let’s say you want to be a copywriter at a food publication,” says McGovern. “Don’t wait for them to hire you before you start writing about food. Create your own food blog and get to work. I have a close friend who was able to break into the highest reaches of the culinary world through strategic use of Instagram, blogging, email marketing, and outreach. Give yourself permission to do the work and others will be clamoring to work with you.”
Developing a side hustle in your field of choice is a great way to choose yourself, explore your passions, and show potential future employers and colleagues what you can do. If you properly manage your schedule, you can usually pursue some freelance work without sacrificing your day job.
“Recently, I had a student who really wanted to work in sports-tech as a web developer,” McGovern says. “So he started a sports tech meetup. Instantly, 35 people joined the group. He was able to leverage this to reach out to CEOs from his favorite companies and ask them to speak at the first event. After the event, they came up to him and asked if he was looking for an internship, which allowed him to completely circumvent the whole job search process.”
Meetup groups are an excellent way to engage with your professional community, broaden your own horizons, and unearth the sorts of opportunities that may not readily present themselves through Google searches. Spending time with successful peers can also help you become fluent in the language of your chosen industry, which can be an enormous help in tailoring your resume and maximizing your social media presence.
You can look for interesting communities in your area on Meetup.com, or attend a lecture from Creative Mornings. If you can’t find the right group, start your own. You may be surprised at how many like minds you find.
“Most cities have professional organizations for your line of work and they are always in need of help,” McGovern says. “Sign up, go to their events, volunteer, and join the board! This will show you are ambitious, forward-thinking, part of the community, and knowledgeable in your desired field.”
Local creative communities tend to be particularly well-served by professional organizations. For designers, there’s AIGA. Marketing professionals have the AMA with many other local alternatives. For those on the creative side of the technology world, exciting organizations such as World IA Day can always use volunteer help, providing ample opportunities in return to tap into your skills and make life-changing professional connections.
Whatever your current level of experience, you can always find creative ways to improve yourself and build a career you love. At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals make the most of their many opportunities. Contact Artisan today to get started.
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