Are you starting a new job? Making a career transition? I’ve received a number of inbound questions on this topic as new grads seek jobs and/or folks are in a career transition and a couple of the most common here:
Getting Hired Without Experience
Question 1: Entering an Industry Without Experience
The first question comes from Anna, a fourth year architecture student. She says, “Hi, Chase, I’m realizing that I don’t actually want to be an architect and I’m more interested in photography. How do I stand out in an area where I have no experience?”
Anna, it’s brave for you to say that you don’t want to do the thing you’ve been studying for. This is a huge blocker for so many. I went through the same thing- I bailed on medical school to become a photographer and I’ll tell you, it was a very, very difficult thing to do. You’re going to hear all sorts of “advice” and input from your friends and family, and it’s your job to stay true to what’s right for you. My view is, once you know you want to do something else, act on that decision immediately.
In fact, I just had an amazing conversation with Steven Pressfield. Steven said there is actually a price for ignoring the thing that you were put on this planet to do. So, first of all, I applaud you for being aware of this.
Let’s talk about some initial steps to get going:
Tip 1: Immerse yourself in the industry
First, you are not going to get hired for things around which you have no experience – or if you do, that would be an exception, not the rule. So how do you combat this? Start acquiring experience. The best way to get experience is through immersion; getting yourself entirely interested in, around, surrounding by the people, the stuff that you want to be doing. I’ve talked at length about the power of personal projects.
How can you start spending time with people who are in the photography industry, making a living and a life, doing photography as the thing that they love?
Where you can get involved:
- Local meet ups
- Online forums
- Networking events
- Photography festivals and exhibitions
There’s nothing like going to actual trade shows where photographers or discussing their trade, swapping secrets about the craft and networking, getting to know one another. Those are your people. Find those people, seek them out and get involved.
Tip 2: Start developing your personal style.
Ok, now that you’re getting some experience, how do you stand out? The answer: start developing a personal style. Whether you’re a photographer, a designer, you’re building houses or building companies, what are the things that make you unique?
There are two main elements of creating a distinct personal style. One, what parts of you do you bring to this new profession? And second, are you getting enough repetition to allow the development of your unique style? The thing that’s going to make you stand out will never be discovered by thinking, planning, or talking about it. You must create a large volume of work and do a fair amount of experimenting before your style will emerge. So just start creating.
What is personal style? See my earlier post on this topic here.
People want to be able to look at your work and say, “I like that.” In any discipline, you have to develop your personal style. The only secret I can share is that it will only come through repetition.
Turning Your Lack of Experience Into an Advantage
It sounds counterintuitive, but perhaps you not being established in this industry can be an advantage. You don’t have all the baggage. You’re willing to make mistakes.
It’s never comfortable starting something new and big when you’re inexperienced, but guess what? It’s not your job to become a master overnight. Nobody expects that of you and you shouldn’t place too high of expectations on yourself. Instead, be willing to look funny, ask questions, and lean into your genuine curiosity. That curiosity will likely lead to deeper connection with your peers. So many people are caught up in how they appear to the world. But I would encourage you to ignore that negative social instinct to recoil, and instead embrace your lack of experience as an advantage you can use to stand out.
Negotiating a Higher Salary
Janice says, “Hey, Chase, I’ve been in the same job for a few years without a raise. I’m wondering if you can give me some help.”
Artists are rarely driven by financial ambitions. I would be willing to guess that you didn’t get into the creative industry because you wanted to get rich, and yet, you need to charge what you’re worth. You can approach this in a constructive and positive way by applying the following three tips.
- Do you know what your job is supposed to be? And are you doing it to a very high degree? Inexperienced professionals often forget that time alone does not merit a raise. Your value to the organization is what determines your salary, and your ability to negotiate a higher salary. So look at your job description, make sure you’re doing the work, rocking it on every level.
- Put time on your boss’s calendar specifically to talk about your compensation. This is when you want to approach the conversation in a very constructive, positive, non-aggressive way. Don’t overthink this, just say, “I want to put some time on your calendar to talk about my compensation.” That will make it so that your boss is not surprised and that you both come prepared to have this conversation.
- Come prepared for the conversation. Bring documentation around how you’ve performed against your job description and be open to feedback about how you can improve. I like to understand the points of view that you are coming from, and also the activity of putting yourself in your boss’s shoes. Ultimately it’s your job to demonstrate that you’ve been consistently performing at a high level in every aspect of your job.
Have other questions I didn’t cover here? Text me your questions @ 206-309-5177 and will answer some in a future video.
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