Three years ago I was downsized from my first job in my field. As a Communications graduate, I had left a cushy job selling insurance in order to pursue my dream of working in Marketing. It was a huge risk, one with very high chance of failure, and unfortunately one year later the company gave me the news.
we can’t afford to keep you
What was I going to do? I had student debt, rent and bills to pay (and zero percent chance of moving back in with my mother – bless her soul) so I reached out to my networks.
I had a friend who had started working for a company called Export Development Canada and she was always raving about her job. Do you want me to give in your resume? They’re hiring, she said. Sure, I said, why not?
Fast forward a couple of days and I got a call for an interview – woohoo! Now it was time to do some research and understand what I had put my hand up for. That’s when my friend sent me the job description and I just about had a heart attack.
CANDIDATES MUST HAVE A 2 YEAR COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE.
As a quick google search to my LinkedIn profile will reveal, I do not (nor will I ever) possess a Computer Science degree. Was she serious? They were going to laugh me out of the interview. It took a few pep talks for me to agree that I really didn’t have anything to lose so I put on my game face and went to the interview.
So what transpired in this interview that helped me land an IT job with zero technical experience?
I WASN’T AFRAID OF FAILURE
Okay, that’s a lie – I was scared out of my mind and had a million question. What if they thought I wasted their time? What if I couldn’t answer any of their technical questions? What if, what if, what if. And yet, in spite of all those questions and fears, I still got dressed, walked into that meeting room and showed them why they called me in there in the first place.
The point is that I didn’t let all those questions stop me from taking a chance and seizing the opportunity to show them what I could do. Had I let my fear stop me from going to that interview, I would not be working for one of Canada’s Top Employers and waking up every morning loving my job.
I SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
One of the most memorable parts of the interview was when it was my turn to ask my future boss questions. I immediately directed him to my resume saying, So as you can see from my resume, I don’t possess a 2 year Computer Science degree. I just want to set your expectations that I don’t have any technical knowledge, but I am a fast learner and I will learn what I need to know to excel in this position.
By identifying an area where I was lacking, I was able to highlight other skills I possessed which would help me perform the role (hard work and perseverance). Most people would never in a million years do this, but it was this very bold move which was able to convince my future boss to take a chance on me.
I WAS MY AUTHENTIC SELF
Think about a few people who inspire you. What do these people have in common? They live and breathe their core values; they are their most authentic selves.
During my interview I never once pretended to know what I didn’t know. I spoke about my experience in Customer Service and how it was important for me to be in a role where the customer was at the centre of everything I did.
By talking about my core value of helping people, I was able to exude a confidence which demonstrated to my future boss why he should hire me to look after his team’s customers.
I FOLLOWED UP
It always amazes me how many people don’t follow up after their interview. You should always thank your interviewer for taking the time out of their busy day to meet with you.
I always tell people, sending a simple ‘Thank You’ email could be the extra little oomph you need to put you ahead of your competition. Not only that, but it’s just common courtesy – don’t forget those manners your parents taught you!
At the end of the day, I’m a strong believer in the notion that work skills are transferable (I mean unless you’re a doctor and you need to have the technical skills not to kill someone on your operating table); any skills you have learned will help you in your next opportunity. This means that even if you don’t have what the interviewer is asking for on paper, it doesn’t mean that the skills you have wouldn’t make you perfect for the role.
In any position I have been in, 90% of the skills you need are learned ON THE JOB. So next time you’re applying for something and you’re not quite sure if you have everything they’re looking for, take that chance and send in that resume; you might just find your dream job!