Dear Matt: I've been out of college for a few years and while I've been considered an entry-level employee in my first two jobs, I feel I'm ready to make the next step in my career. What steps should I take to show future employers I'm no longer entry-level, but instead ready to move into more prominent roles?
Matt says: The first thing you need to do is seriously review your work history and accomplishments. Do you feel you should move into a greater role just because you think it's the next step in your career path, or do you have legitimate accomplishments or results that an employer would expect in a more demanding role? Remember, you're not only trying to impress the employer, you're also competing with a number of other candidates applying for the same job who are in the same position you are - ready to make the next career step.
"This is an employers' market and employers will ultimately hire the candidate they think is the best qualified in terms of knowledge, experience and cultural fit," said Norma Beasant, a Twin Cities human resources consultant who has worked for large corporations in Colorado, California, New Mexico and Minnesota. "If the employer is looking for someone with at least six years' experience in a specific area and you only have three or four years, you probably won't make the cut."
So how do you show employers you have what they need? Susan Bjork, Principal of HR Ingenuity, Inc. (hringenuity.com), a Twin Cities-based human resources consulting firm, offers these tips:
* On your resume, highlight skill sets and accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to be successful in the advanced role.
* Provide examples of when you sought additional projects and/or responsibilities.
* Show your pursuit of professional development by including any continuing education completed and professional association activity.
* Prepare for behavioral-based questions that many interviewers will use to help uncover a candidate's potential performance.
* Prepare to ask questions related specifically to the role or organization, and summarize why you believe you would be a success in that role.
* Look at job descriptions of the jobs you want to apply for. Do you have the skills and accomplishments they are looking for? That will ultimately determine your ability to move forward in your career - not just your years of experience.