Time to address one of the most common questions I get from my clients, “What if I don’t have development experience?”
We all got jobs without prior development experience, which means you can too. The trick is knowing how to leverage your past.
Sadly, job postings scare people away from applying since they want two years of experience and 85 required skills.
While this article isn’t about reading job postings, knowing that everyone starts without experience means you can too.
Take a step back for a minute and think about if you were a leader in a company. What qualities you’d like in your employees?
More than likely, you’d come up with a list with some things like:
- Good communicator
- Team player
- Takes initiative
- Finishes things
So if you’d want someone like that on your team, what do you think the chances are that someone else wants that too? Pretty high!
What you want to do is look at your previous experience and focus on highlighting these qualities. Let’s say you worked at a fast-food place.
Instead of writing, “Prepped meals according to the standards.”
You might write, “Worked on a team that served 2000 customers daily in a high-paced environment.”
Hopefully, it’s pretty clear which one would get the attention of a manager.
I’ve worked with lawyers, healthcare folks, and all other kinds who have transitioned to tech. While all of them were terrified of their lack of development experience, they had amazing stories and value to bring to the table.
For years I kept my job doing ocean rescue as a teenager on my resume because it guaranteed that someone would ask about it. Bonding over fun stories is a big part of successful interviewing, and non-development experience excels at this.
We’re naturally curious about what other people have been through, and when you have a varied history, that is a superpower compared to folks who have done only one thing.
The trick is to tell your stories and make it clear how what you learned prepared you for today.
I used to close my stories about ocean rescue with something like, “So I’m comfortable with high-stress situations.” That line would show up because, at some point, we’d talk about projects and deadlines and stressful or difficult situations. Well, a story about life-and-death pretty much puts an end to the concern about that.
To make the most of your non-development experience, identify those attributes like above and focus your experience to emphasize them and any other result a business would care about.
Then, reflect back on those jobs and see what stories come to the surface. If you can relate any of those stories to those attributes, you’re ready.
Now, when a manager reads your resume and sees that you deliver results and have all the qualities they’d love in an employee, you’ll be ready to interview with great effect.
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