Bootstrapping Your Career
When it comes to our careers, we all have to start somewhere. And, with contemporary technology being what it is, we have even more tools to develop those careers in productive ways.
Regardless of career or available tools, it can still prove intimidating. So here are a few things to consider when bootstrapping your career from scratch.
Learn the Skills
The simplest, although by no means easiest, way to kickstart your career is to develop the relevant skills for your industry. If have finished (or are currently finishing) a college degree, then this is probably what you have been doing for the past 4+ years. Regardless of whether you are a graduate or simply moving in to a new career, you need to know what you are doing, and you need to be able to express that to potential employers.
If there are particular software programs or platforms used by professionals in your field, learn them as much as you can. Find special deals on licenses so you can have some experience with the software. This is where a degree program also comes in handy, because often the school will purchase licenses for relevant software.
If you aren’t a recent college graduate, you still have the internet, Amazon, and access to a library. If you are looking to bootstrap your career, leveraging these resources to get books and training materials to help you learn. So, learn the skills, and stay up-to-date with them.
Network for Free
There has never been a better time for networking then right now. The key to bootstrapping your career is leveraging networking opportunities in order to keep your name out there and show that you have potential as a professional. There are a few key ways to do this:
Read Blogs and Articles: Get to know the people in your industry by reading their blogs. Some will write on their own websites, guest post on larger magazine-style websites, or write on other platforms like Medium. These professionals will cover the interesting topics in your industry, including trends in employment and technology.
Use Social Media: Remember all those blogs you read? Find the authors on social media and follow them. Find out the professional circles and organizations they run with, and join them. Ask some questions in a public forum, and have conversations with people at different levels of experience. This is especially important for forums targeting your profession, or social media platforms built specifically for networking (like LinkedIn).
Attend Conferences: Conference attendance can still provide a top-notch way of networking with other professionals. If you are short on cash, be selective, or find out if there are any gatherings near you. Attend panels, ask questions, make contacts.
Learn the Industry
You can’t get started with a career if you don’t know the industry you’re getting in to. You can’t write effective resumes if you don’t know what potential employers and colleagues want, and you can’t just jump into an industry without a learning curve.
So, attack the learning curve by learning the industry.
This sounds like a redundancy of the first two points, but it extends much further than that. Learn about the long-term trends in hiring and labor in that field. Become an expert not simply of your job, but your future career 5 or 10 years down the road.
Then, write a resume and cover letter for that 5 to 10-year job. See what skills and talents are there. See what kind of experience is there. And then learn about the potential paths people take to get there. Is it all corporate work? Do you freelance or contract out? Is there a bigger market in smaller firms or at-home businesses?
Prepare to Work
One thing you have that’s the most valuable thing to you is your work. To really bootstrap your career, you’re going to have to put in the hours learning, networking, and producing. This is where all the practical labor comes in.
Write a resume and cover letter for your dream jobs.
Plan an interview and practice answering questions in the mirror or in front of colleagues who will give you honest advice.
Reach out to individuals in positions you want to work in, and as if they are open to an invitational interview. Provide informative and interesting questions for them.
If you’ve networks, studied, and planned, then these practical tasks will fall into place much easier.
It isn’t easy, but people start their own careers with little too few resources every single day. With these steps, there is no reason you can’t do the same.
Entry Level Resume & Advice
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