Dear Credible Career Coach,
Why am I not being considered for mid-level positions when I feel like I have the necessary experience?
Dear Feeling Overlooked,
In my experience, these are the top three reasons for not being considered for mid-level positions:
- Lack of a strong professional network
- Mismatched experiences and education (despite what you believe)
- Poor personal presentation
Let’s address each of those:
A Professional Network
A strong personal network leads to a better shot at the jobs you want.
A study out of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that nearly 60% of job applicants learned of the opening for their current position from a friend or family member.
A different survey commissioned by iCIMS found that about 66% of job seekers who were recommended by a current employee were hired. That number increases to 91% if the referral originated from a director-level employee or above.
In other words, your network friends inform you about open positions and then can actually help you land the job.
Seek out new ways to develop your professional network. Join organizations that have weekly or monthly events and attend those. Go to conferences related to your industry and talk to people, add those new acquaintances on LinkedIn, and exchange business cards if that’s still common in your industry.
Devote some time each day to networking online. For example, read articles posted to LinkedIn and add a comment or follow an industry blog. If you’re inspired by an executive who is sharing ideas, reach out and compliment them.
Not all skills are easily transferrable from one position to the next.
Let’s say you’re a sales director. It would take a significant learning curve to go from selling retail consumer products to proposing SaaS solutions for a large company.
Or perhaps you’ve spent most of your career as a traditional print, television and radio marketing manager and now find that the buzz is for multi-channel marketing abilities and up-to-the minute data-analysis requirements.
While the base skills remain the same, like evaluating and improving market share or telling a consistent brand story, more education may be required before you’re the perfect fit for your desired position. Take the time to be sure your skills really do match the requirements of that new role.
Even if you’ve been referred, you still have to present yourself well.
A strong presentation begins with a resume that matches the job and passes the ATS screening. Before the interview, research the company and be prepared to answer questions about your skills and weaknesses. Make sure that you also understand the dress code so that you can make a first impression that leads to employment.
Related experience is necessary to get the interview for a mid-level position—there’s no way around that. However, keep in mind that a strong network and a positive first impression are what will open the door to that opportunity.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to control what you can. So, stay focused on making connections and putting your best foot forward, and I’m confident that you’ll find a great opportunity soon enough.
This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Credible Career Coach in the subject line.
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