Back when I decided to apply to Physical Therapy school I knew that I was starting an uphill climb. At the time, I was a travel agent and definitely did not have the qualifications to be considered as a potential student! The applicant pool was excessive and the spots in school were slim.
I developed a 2 year game plan with the end goal of acceptance into PT school. How was I going to be one of the 24 out of the 2400 applicants that they accepted? The first step was to research my options. From there, I dove into figuring out EXACTLY what the programs wanted and who they wanted. I made phone calls to the programs and befriended receptionists/secretaries and picked their brains.
Once I had that information, I knew what I needed to do. Failure was not an option. I went above and beyond to make sure that I covered every base they considered in the application process.
YOU getting into your new field is exactly the same process. So….how does this transfer into getting your new job? First, you access your current skills/experience. Compare that to the list of qualifications that you need to be a viable candidate for that position. Remember that you will be competing with applicants that have 100% of the qualifications that a company wants. To be considered for THAT job, you will need to have at least close to 90% of the qualifications if you are going into a competitive field.
Your game plan is to go back and methodically determine exactly what you need to do to meet the basic qualifications. The next step is to make that happen. Do you need to take courses? Volunteer to gain experience? Take a “lesser job” in the company to get your foot in the door?
Remember, the number one way that people get jobs is through people….it is “who you know”. How do you get to know the people that can introduce you to hiring managers? Networking through alumni associations, LinkedIn, and acquaintances will help you connect with hiring managers. Once you develop a personal connection, that person may see something in you that propels you to the head of the line.
I never thought of writing resumes/career coaching before I started doing it. I had become friends with the owner of one of the nation’s largest resume writing firms and a top career coach. One night over dinner, he was complaining bitterly about a difficult writer. I was complaining about not making enough money as a Physical Therapist. On a lark – and sort of as a joke – I asked him what it would take to become one of his writers. He asked “are you really serious? You have the basic qualities that are needed, you just need to learn how to do it.” He was willing to take a chance on me because he knew me and he knew he could advise me on what it would take to learn the craft. I still needed to train, be mentored, and get certified to verify my new skills – but that personal connection is what got my foot in the door.
You never know when you will meet the right person at the right time – but you still need to do the hard work to be the person that they want to hire.