How to Land Your Dream Job with Zero ‘Relevant Experience’
March 7, 2020
For those of us without the “right experience”, pursuing a dream job is a vicious cycle— a never ending maze of dead ends. How do you convince someone you’re the perfect for a job that you have no direct experience in?
I’ll tell you how I did it (including the gory details) and how I used that experience to create a product that makes it easier for the career pivoters, no-college degree entrepreneurs, and English-lit majors turned programmers.
The origin story
I got into finance because at 21, I was good at numbers and I was worried my grandkids would still be paying off my student loans. So I took a safe, logical first step in my career and proudly signed my job offer as a Financial Analyst.
Three years and a lifetime of Excel wizardry later, a small inner voice got louder. Finance wasn’t ‘it’ for me. I needed to make a change. I knew the role I wanted, but I had no idea where to start.
Meet the villain: ‘the right experience’
To even be considered for a Product Manager position, you need a Computer Science degree from a top university and several years of experience in a product-related role. Big strike one.
But what I lacked on paper, I made up for in grit. I had a growth mindset and a passion to create. I knew I had what it took to make it in this role. I just needed to find someone who could see it too.
I am more than my resume. Why couldn’t someone else see that?
At first, no one did. Connection requests went unanswered. Inmail messages went unread. Job applications sent into a black hole.
Finding and scaling superpowers
I felt dejected, but not defeated. I blew out the candles on my pity party and did the only thing I could think of.
Learn. I taught myself Sketch design software, I learned about a/b testing, I read every book on Product Management I could get my hands on, and I taught myself enough coding to have an intelligent conversation with an engineer.
And then I just started to build and bring my ideas to whomever would listen. I networked like crazy. And finally, a leader in Product Management did listen. She opened a door and I became a Product Manager at LinkedIn. I will forever be grateful for the person who saw me for my hussle, my growth mindset, and creative drive, not for a lack of experience. It changed my life.
So, there were two things that got me this job -- learning and networking. How do I, as a person that influences product, help more people with unconventional backgrounds get the roles they were made to fill?
I opened my calendar to other aspiring product managers with ideas, trying to open a door for those that I could spot with grit and raw talent. But it wasn’t scalable. Instead of trying to create more exceptions, I knew it was time to change the rules. Two people with equal talent should have equal access to opportunity. It’s as simple and straightforward as that.
Closing the network gap
The reality is that where you grow up, where you go to school, and where you work can give you a 12x advantage in gaining access to opportunity. At LinkedIn we call this difference the Network Gap.
For many, this creates a vicious cycle that shuts deserving individuals out from gaining opportunity altogether. Now that I made it to my dream job as a Product Manager, I’m determined to pay it forward and narrow the opportunity divide.
Which is why today we’re launching the Shine Program for select open roles at LinkedIn -- to hire top talent for their skills and not their experiences. For these LinkedIn Customer Support Consultant Roles, we’ve removed all prerequisites. It does not matter where you have worked, if or where you went to school, where you live, or who you know. The job is open to everyone. As part of the program, applicants will get free access to LinkedIn Learning online courses to learn the skills needed to succeed in the role. The best part? If you pass the required online assessments, LinkedIn will guarantee you an interview.
Check out the LinkedIn Customer Support Consultant roles that opened today and will be accepting applications through March 16th. Previously, to apply to this role you needed 2 years of experience in Customer Support. Now they are open to everyone. If you have what it takes, we want you to interview and show us you’re the right person for the job.
Most importantly, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your stories on either side of this opportunity divide so we can make a program, like Shine, bigger than a “program”, and establish a new norm for how we recruit and hire talent. And it must start with leveling the playing field to unlock opportunity for all of us.
Check out the Learning Path Become a Customer Support Specialist to learn the skills needed to succeed in the role today.