Landing your first job is often the hardest one to nail down. At some point we’ve all been on job postings for an entry level position that lists a requirement of “five years of experience”. But how the hell are you supposed to get industry experience without, you know…experience? It’s contradictory and ridiculous, but it’s just part of the job search unfortunately.
“What more can I do?”, you might be thinking. You’ve already spent countless hours and more money than you’d like to think about, and all for what? Here you are ready to work, but the jobs aren’t exactly falling in your lap. Most small businesses with few team members (i.e. recording studios, radio stations etc.) are skeptical about employing an inexperienced newbie, and there’s good reason for that. The smaller the team, the more responsibility lies on you. With a bigger team, you share the responsibility. Simply put, your chances of candidacy has less to do with your natural or learned talent, and more about you how well you function as a team member.
Businesses will want to see that you you have experience working with people, meeting deadlines, being organized and handling stressful situations. If you are able to demonstrate that you have these qualities, you are much more likely to be considered for a role. So how do you fulfill this prerequisite without actually having a job? There are lots of ways to get started.
To be completely honest, I always hated the concept of networking as someone who isn’t the best in social situations. I don’t particularly enjoy leaving my comfort zone and chatting up someone I’ve never met before. Fortunately for us all, humans have the ability to adapt and learn to new situations, and that’s exactly what I learned along the way.
If you ignore the social uncomfortableness, networking is by far the easiest way to get a leg up on your competitors. Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find people to connect with. Platforms like LinkedIn let us meet new people in the industry of our choosing. Do some research, and find a company you’d like to work for. Connect with someone in your desired position and ask if they would be able to chat with you, either over the phone or over coffee. If you look put together, are sociable and prepare with questions you will leave a good impression on that person. Ask them to think of you if they hear of any positions at their company or elsewhere. They are more likely to consider / recommend you if you have shared a personal interaction.
Try A Different Angle
Sometimes the best approach for a job isn’t a straight shot, but an angled approach. If you don’t qualify for your dream job, apply for a different position at the company you want to work for. Companies are more likely to hire from within, so if you are able to show your work ethic in a different position, you’ll be a strong candidate.
When I worked at a radio station, we had countless applications for on-air host positions. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities as openings usually only happen when someone leaves or there are layoffs. That’s why many radio students would volunteer to be on our street team. They knew that’s it’s better to be on the inside than out, even if it means working a job they didn’t exactly want for a short time as they built experience. Even though there were very few positions that opened up (if any), the company would let street teamers gain experience by voicing radio shows over night and at events. That way, even if we couldn’t offer them a position, they were able to grow their experience and put a radio station on their resume. Think about if there are any equivalent positions at your dream company. Getting your foot in the door will do wonders for your career.
If for some reason, you are still unable to find an entry level or place to volunteer, or if those experiences haven’t bared any fruit yet, there’s still more you can do.
Have you exhausted all the knowledge out there? If your answer is yes, then you are dead wrong. There’s always more we can learn. Take an online class, follow blogs and go to conferences. Is there an online certification that would be helpful for someone in your position? There are lots of free certification courses, and others that don’t cost a whole lot. Put down every certification on your resume. Show your potential future bosses that you are dedicated to the craft and are constantly educating yourself. If you don’t have the industry experience to back yourself up, come armed with knowledge and show them nobody knows more than you do! That being said, be careful with how you come across in an interview. Don’t be boastful or braggy, rather confident and enthusiastic.
Students Make Great Employees
My dad always told me during college to not let my “schooling interfere with my education”. What he meant was that the most important part of school isn’t always the books and the formal knowledge, but the practical experience. Students have a leg up on others because they have had to meet deadlines, manage multiple projects at once and work with others. Schoolwork teaches you about your profession, whereas being a student teaches you about the workplace. Being sociable, easy to work with and organized aren’t skills that can be taught in a classroom, but are a direct result of the educational system. That being said, there are other reasons why going to school is a good move for finding a job.
Consider a program like the Audio Engineering & Music Production program at OIART. As you hone your skills as an audio engineer/producer, you’ll have access to personal career counselors who will help you find a job. Upon graduating, over 70% of students land a job within six months. As far as the industry goes, that’s an incredible high rate of employment for such a highly sought after career.
Just remember, your resume might get you an interview, but at the end of the day it’s who you are that will land you the job.