Leveraging Your Experiences

As we all know, finding a full-time position at any stage of your career is challenging. The right opportunity has to come at the right time and you need to find out about it. When you think about it, it really is a crazy idea that you can actually find the right job for you with so many different opportunities to choose from. However, it does happen. There are so many jobs out there that are exactly what you are looking for, whether that be within a particular industry or a particular position that you are passionate about. The problem is when you find these positions, you may not have experience in the industry or in a position that is similar to the one that you are applying for. This deters so many people from submitting their application and putting their hat in the ring for selection.

The crazy thing is, it really shouldn't and that is what I wanted to focus on today: All the reasons why you should be applying for jobs that you are not the most qualified for. So much of all the things that we have talked about surrounding connections, resumes, cover letters, and anything else job related have been centered around one main idea: VALUE. When employers select a candidate for an open position, they are looking for the person who is going to be the most valuable to the company in that particular role.

Everything that you have done throughout your life has some sort of value whether that be attending a class that you could not stand, a successful internship, or a project that you failed miserably. Every time you talk about an experience on a resume, a social profile, or a cover letter, recruiters attribute a certain level of value to that experience as it relates to the position. This is how they decide who they want to interview for a position. The important thing to remember is the value that they attributed to you is only an ESTIMATION, not an exact value.

Again. It's an ESTIMATION. Recruiters have no way of knowing everything that could possibly have come from an experience without hearing you talk about it. And that is where the leveraging begins. An experience is an experience and that can only be so valuable, but how the experience impacted you is invaluable. People get so caught up in the process of interviewing and proving that their experiences are worthy of the job that they forget the most valuable thing: THEMSELVES! There is so much value packed into the layers that comprise your onion (#Shrek). You have to find a way to show employers who you are as a person and everything that makes you who you are.

Almost every interview that you participate in will use behavioral based questions: "Tell me about a time when ____". Few people actually like these (I get, I hate them too), but this is the best kind of question you could get asked. Every behavioral interview question that was ever asked on this planet has one thing in common: YOU! Employers are asking to hear a story about you. So often I find myself getting caught up in the idea that the scenario that I picked wasn't related to the question fully or I had another experience that would have been better to use, when that isn't what is most important. I am the most important thing in my story and you are the most important thing in your story. These questions are just a way for employers to learn a little more about an experience, and a lot more about who you are as a person and what makes you who you are.

Which brings us back to the idea of leveraging your experience. It is so easy in the pressure of the interview to use yourself to leverage the experience, making the focal point of your story the experience itself. This makes for a decent response depending on how good the experience is, but the best responses can come from the most boring experiences. Employers are paying to have YOU, not the experience. These stories should focus on how you acted in each situation, what you were able to achieve, and, most importantly, how that experience impacted you. Showing employers who you truly are and what drives you forward is what stands out. It doesn't matter what experiences you have or don't have. What matters is that you take the time to show employers that with who you are and what you have done throughout your life, you are the perfect candidate for their position. All you have to do is focus on using the experience to leverage who you are as a person, an engineer, and a Spartan. Using all of your experiences to highlight your best qualities is all you need to do to land that perfect job, whether your experiences match perfectly or not. I hope that this helps all of you as you continue on this job search journey. Stay tuned and keep grinding Spartans!

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