At eighteen years old, shortly after dropping out of college, I landed my highest paying job yet: a senior position at a very well known hospital. My big plans seemed unattainable to the outside observer, but I was determined to do what I needed to do to make the money I wanted to make.
It can be very intimidating to apply for a job you aren’t sure you’re qualified for, but I’ve been there and I have the advice you may need to get what you want!
- Don’t be Scared of Big Words
Step one of landing a better paying job is to not back away at the mention of the words “Senior” or “Experienced” before the job title. Many times, they sound much more serious than the work ends up being in practice. This isn’t to say you should go after the role of a surgeon without the education, but putting “senior” in front of a customer service position can often mean higher pay without lower attainability.
Landing these positions doesn’t have to count on doing the junior version of the job first. You likely will just need to assert your capability and the life experience that will carry you.
- Do Your Homework
The key to looking like a professional is to burn every bit of information offered in the job description into your brain. You’re going to need to take note of every qualification, skill, and duty that description provides.
Glassdoor may also have a gold mine of information. Past employees who held the same position will often leave a review that will give you a window into what they really do on the job.
Negative reviews are also handy, because you can flip them around into a clever answer for the classic variety of “what would you do in a difficult situation?” most interviews include. After all, what better answer to impress the employer than by offering a resolution to a situation a past employee quit over.
You also need to look for the average salary for the position. For good jobs, the employer will almost definitely ask you what you expect to be paid. Shoot for the middle to be safe, you won’t look like you are asking too much and they won’t be able to lowball you too hard.
- Put that Studying to Good Use
To secure this job, that resume needs to look downright beautiful. You may be used to skipping the section that asks for a cover letter, but it’s time to stop considering it optional. You will need an expertly well-written letter addressed to the hiring manager.
Make it obvious you know what’s expected. Start by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity, then detail why you believe you would be a good fit for the job, as well as how wonderfully capable you are of meeting all expectations.
If the description demands communication skills, say that you enjoy coordinating with a variety of people to complete assignments. If it asks for computer skills, you are fascinated with the hands-on learning of computer programs. What is important here is that you sound both eager and expert.
The letter shouldn’t be needlessly long. One short page is plenty.
Next is to formulate the actual resume. You can still create a great resume without relevant experience. Whatever you do, don’t lie. Trust the experience you’ve got. Good jobs actually check, and liars are flagged for life.
While it may feel embarrassing to list those fast food and strip mall jobs, they contributed valuable lessons and experience. Make sure that under that fast food job you explain how it taught you how to work under intense pressure and be personable with even the most difficult customers. Under that retail job, show how you were able to make any sale and fill out any paperwork put on your counter. Experience handling money comes from both and is handy anywhere. Manual labor builds hard workers and is something to be proud of on a resume.
- The Interview
Impressions are everything. Despite likely having uploaded your resume and cover letter online, come with a hard copy neatly organized in a folder. Dress like a true professional and forget the fear of showing up overdressed. Slacks, a button-down, and a blazer are absolutely the way to go for that professional impression. Look clean, sorted, and confident.
When face to face with your interviewer(s), keep your posture straight and your demeanor calm. You can take a moment to think of a clear answer to every question, so don’t jump in immediately and lead with a stutter or an “um”. Know your resume forward and back, relate your answers back to the job description, and pull stories from true personal experiences.
Above all, don’t panic. Nervousness is okay, but take a breath and don’t shake like a leaf. Fake it til you make it; give off the vibe you know for certain you are qualified, and your interviewer will believe you really are.
- Enjoy Your New Job!
And if it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t fret. These steps work, and I believe you can land any job with the right amount of determination and preparation. Good luck!