Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Job hunting: Getting a job without the right qualifications

I had an email from a reader who asked:

Okay my dream job is building websites, I have no formal qualifications and only limited knowladge but I can build a mean website and get it ranked in a couple of weeks, most times on the second page of Google to start with and within a two week period and with a little more work onto the first page.

I have three websites like this already so I know it is not by chance.

How do I convince anyone to give me my dream job when all these sort of companies want an employee straight out of college with a degree?

Hmm. Interesting quandary.

Of course it's not uncommon to hear candidates getting knocked back because they don't have the right paper qualifications. Here's what I'd do:

  • Focus your covering letter and CV or resume on your successes. When an interviewer opens your letter, they should be hit immediately within the first paragraph with examples of the websites that you have created and what you managed to do with them. Write in the first person singular about what you have done (i.e 'I achieved...' and 'I built' rather than 'the website achieved...' or 'the website was built...').
  • If possible, apply by email rather than writing a physical letter. That way, you can include links to the websites you have built and links also to prove their Google ranking.
But the best advice I would give any job hunter who doesn't have a typical background is to network your way into a job rather than applying like everyone else. Basically, the idea is that you talk to the people you know to ask for contacts to other people who might then introduce you to other people. It's time consuming and you will in all likelihood have to speak to many, many dozens of people. Eventually, by following your chains of contacts, you will probably find your way into a job; even if you don't know anyone 'important', you may know people who know people who know people who might be 'important'. I've written a book on the topic but I'm in a rush and not explaining this well so here's a link that might help you out. Yes, networking is definitely going to be a better bet than simply applying for jobs.

Good luck!