Most people assume there’s only one way to get a job that’s higher than their current position—by applying for one that’s less senior and working their way up.
But depending on how big the gap is, that’s not your only option. If you’re one “rung” away from your ideal job, use creative methods of acquiring new skills and experience that’ll make you qualified. Here are four ideas to try.
Volunteering can be a great way to contribute to the community and boost your resume at the same time. Rather than finding a cause first and a role second, start with the position.
You’re looking for a role that will allow you to learn or hone skills you’ll need professionally; for example, if you’re an aspiring UX/UI designer, you might volunteer to do graphic design for a local nonprofit. If you want to transition from journalism to technical writing, find a charity that needs help submitting grant applications (or other more technical documentation).
Make money and level up simultaneously with part-time, contract, or gig work. People are often intimidated by freelancing, assuming they need to be an expert before anyone will hire them. But that’s definitely not the case—as long as you’re willing to accept below-market rates in the beginning to gain experience, you’ll find plenty of customers.
Once you’ve built a portfolio of work (and can reference happy clients), you can increase your prices.
Look for freelance jobs on platforms like Upwork, LinkedIn ProFinder, and Fiverr. You should also ask your network for referrals; frequently, you’ll discover your connections know people looking for your type of help.
Looking to get noticed? Read more ways to get recruiters to find, notice & contact you on LinkedIn.
3. Take an Online Course
Virtual classes are one of the most convenient avenues for professional development. Choose from a huge variety of topics, lengths, skill levels, and objectives to find the one that suits you best.
For example, if you want to learn a new language, you might choose a self-guided course you can listen to via an app. If you want to learn a new coding language, you might go to a bootcamp like the kind General Assembly offers, which would require logging on at a specific time every day and interacting with other distance learners and your professor.
The first step is determining what you want to learn. The second is identifying how you learn best: with lots of guidance, mostly independent, at your own pace, on a schedule, etc.
4. Publish Content
Every employer wants employees who can write. Not only does this point to strong communication skills, but writing comes into play in almost every job, whether it’s code documentation, reports, emails, newsletters, and so on. Publishing about your area of expertise is even better.
If it makes sense for your discipline, submit to academic papers or a publication that’s respected in your field. Blogging is an easy, low-barrier-to-entry option as well.
Use one, two, or all of these strategies to make yourself a more competitive candidate—and get the job you want in less time.