While the future is uncertain, what is certain is that by 2025, Irish workers and enterprises will be operating in a completely changed economy. Technology continues to herald new ways of doing business and new economic opportunities. This will present us with challenges, but also new possibilities. Lots of job roles will disappear or be redefined and emerging job roles will require new and different skillsets. In this blog we look at the sectors that hold the best chances for economic and job growth in the near future. Broadly the global economic performance and Ireland’s position are positive for the foreseeable future. With unemployment now at 4.8% and decreasing quarterly, all signals point towards continued, sustainable improvement. ICT Sector Ireland has become the global technology hub of choice when it comes to attracting the strategic business activities of ICT companies. This has earned Ireland the reputation for being the heart of ICT in Europe. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually. With Ireland being the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. With a highly creative and talented workforce, an open economy and a competitive corporate tax environment, Ireland has successfully attracted eight of the top 10 global information technology companies to establish a significant presence here. Some facts about the ICT sector: Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. Global leaders such as Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Apple have long-established operations in Ireland. They have been joined by newer leading-edge giants such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, eBay and Twitter. Dublin is Europe's leading hub of innovative games companies with Big Fish, EA, Havok, DemonWare, PopCap, Zynga, Riot Games and Jolt all having a significant presence here. Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry “Ireland is now operating in the same ballpark as major science-funding countries around the world” - Professor Mark Ferguson, SFI Director Already one of Ireland’s best performing industries, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is set to grow even further in the future. With a growing and ageing population worldwide, the number and degree of health-related issues is continuously on the rise. People will always need medical care ensuring a continued demand for research, development and production of new drugs. There are now over 30,000 people employed in the industry. This trend looks set to continue into 2020 with major expansions of many of the big pharma players across the country. The IDA reports the biopharmaceutical industry has made a capital investment of approximately €10 billion in new facilities in Ireland, in the last 10 years. This represents one of the largest investments in new biotech facilities anywhere in the world. As a result of the growth in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical device industries in Ireland, it is very likely that a student about to graduate with a third level qualification in science will find interesting employment in one of the following areas; research, manufacturing, regulation or sales and marketing. Some relevant facts about pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector: No. 10 of the top 10 world's pharmaceutical companies 7th largest exporter of medical and pharmaceutical products in the world in 2014 €39 billion in annual exports of pharma, bio and chemistry produce 75 pharmaceutical companies operate in Ireland 40 FDA approved pharma and biopharma plants Financial Sector The financial services jobs market for accountancy and finance professionals continued its upwards growth trend last year. Even without the added benefit of companies relocating to Ireland post Brexit, the confidence of both employer and employee alike has produced a healthy landscape with more opportunity for those who wish to change jobs. There is no doubt Brexit has been a major contributor to the growth in the financial services jobs market. We have seen major international companies relocate operations to Dublin and others who already have a presence here have laid out plans to significantly increase their headcount. This is all positive news for students studying in this area. Not only does this create opportunities that would not have existed without Brexit, it also increases churn in the market involving more established financial services companies in Ireland who subsequently end up with more vacancies themselves. Particularly for accountants, regulatory reporting accountants and in funds if you specialised in fund accounting, risk & control, depository, compliance and AML you will find interesting and worthwhile employment when you graduate. 42,000 people employed in the Financial Services Sector in Ireland 4th Largest Exporter of Financial Services in EU No. 1 location worldwide for Alternative Investment Funds All stats referneced from Future Jobs Ireland2019 Goverenment Doc and IDA.ie
Having a bit of bad luck lately? Don’t worry, have a look at these famous people who received some painful rejections before they accomplished some amazing things. Walt Disney The man whose cartoon characters have given so much to generations of students and are still a huge part of peoples’ lives today. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919 because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”, according to his editor. And his bad luck didn’t end there, when he finally managed to get his own production company he had to file for bankruptcy because he couldn’t manage his money correctly. Luckily, he didn’t give up, moved to Hollywood and went on to become one of the greatest animators in the world. His creations have gone on to touch the lives of many and as well as being a successful production company, Disney also operates theme parks, a streaming service and stores worldwide. JK Rowling People know JK Rowling as one of the most successful female authors in the world. What people aren’t aware of, is the tremendous struggles she faced before Harry Potter was published. In 1990, Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter but that same year her mother passed away and writing was put on hold. In 1992 she moved to Portugal to teach English where she met her husband and had a daughter. Sadly, in 1993 her marriage ended and she moved to Scotland to be close to her sister. At this time Rowling saw herself as a failure, she was divorced, jobless and broke. Rowling then began to focus her attention on Harry Potter. When her manuscript was completed, she sent it to 12 publishers and was rejected by all 12 before it was accepted by a small publishing company, Bloomsbury and the rest as they say is history. Photo: Daniel Ogren Flickr Oprah Winfrey Oprah Winfrey had an extremely difficult start in life, she was raised in rough conditions and was the victim of sexual abuse from the age of 9. When she was 14 however, she was given the opportunity to live with her father who encouraged her to pursue her education and later she went on to university to study communications. Her difficulty didn’t stop there, as after gaining a job as an evening news reporter, she was fired because she couldn’t sever her emotions from her stories. Her boss told her she was “unfit for television news”. Oprah laughs about this now and even admits she wasn’t cut out for news reporting because she became too emotionally invested in the people and the stories. She was then given a talk show slot on the same television network and the rest is history. Photo: Ian Evenstar Flickr Katy Perry Most people know the name Katy Perry but few know of the struggle she went through to be the success she is today. In 2001, Katy Perry who was then Katy Hudson released an unsuccessful Christian album that only sold 200 copies and was subsequently dropped from her label. She then went on to sign with Island Def Jam in 2003 where she was also dropped. Then she was set to be the front woman of a band called The Matrix and that contract was also terminated before they released any music. It wasn’t until she signed with Capitol Music Group and released, I Kissed a Girl that her music career really took off. Photo: Joella Marano Stephen King One of the world’s most famous authors, Stephen King has written over 50 novels and has had many of his novels produced as films. However, King didn’t always have it easy. In fact, before his first novel Carrie was published, he threw it in the bin. It had been rejected 30 times and King decided he’d had enough. It was his wife that retrieved it from the trash and told him to keep trying, which is a good thing considering how successful that book became and his other books to follow. Photo: Rogelio A. Galaviz C.
Over 58,000 students sat their leaving certificate this year. Whilst many are happy with their results, there will also be many who aren’t so happy. If you’re feeling disappointed with your results, don’t worry we have some advice to get you through. 1. Don’t Panic! Give yourself time to come to terms with your results before you start thinking about the long-term implications. Remember, you are not the first person to be disappointed with your exam results. Some of the world most successful business men didn’t do well in school exams such as Bill Cullen, Alan Sugar, Richard Branson. 2. Research Possible Career Routes Think carefully about the career you would like to pursue and research thoroughly all of the possible routes to get there. Just because you think you’ve missed out on your ideal course, doesn’t mean there’s not another route to your end goal. Maybe you’re just shy of a few points, but you have enough for a similar course in a different college? If you don’t know what you want to do, look for a general course which will give you plenty of options. There are even careers out there that don’t have academic requirements that could be suited to you. 3. Consider Repeating While it’s a big decision to repeat 6th year, if you’re sure of the course you want and you’re confident you will get enough points second time around, then repeating could be the best thing for you. Before you consider repeating take the time to consider that while you had your heart set on a certain course, was it really for you? Really think about what your passion is and what you would really love to do. When you decide what it is you want exactly, you can then commit to another academic year in school. 4. Gain Work Experience (Get a job) This is an excellent opportunity for you experience the working world and develop new skills. Not everyone goes to college straight after their Leaving Cert. Many people take time out to work and save money for college. If you’re unsure of what to do, working for a few years could be perfect for you. It will give you valuable experience and it means you can go to college in a few years as a mature student. 5. Don’t Let Friends Influence You It’s important to discuss your options with people you trust, but only you know what you should do. Make your decision on self-assessment and not because of what others are telling you. It can be hard to not be swayed because of others. Especially when not going to a certain college means you don’t get to join your friends or repeating your leaving cert will result in being in back in school with a completely new group of people. Don’t let the thought of being separated from your pals stop you from pursuing the career you want.
You've just got the best news ever! You've been offered the job of your dreams. There's just one problem, you have to quit your current role and you have no idea how. You've had a good run in your current job but it's time for a change. How do you say goodbye without causing offence and ruining the good relationship you have with your boss. Below we’ve listed 5 steps to handing in your notice to help you resign from your job with ease. Know What You’re Going To Do After You Leave This is the number one step before you even dream of leaving. If you're leaving for another job, make sure you have accepted your new job offer and signed a contract. The reason you're leaving needs to be locked down before you resign from your current role. The last thing you want is to end up jobless. Act Professional Regardless of whether you have a good relationship with your boss or not, you need to be professional when you tell them you are leaving. Ask to speak to them privately at their earliest convenience. When you meet them, thank them for the time you have spent working for their company and explain that you have decided to pursue another opportunity. During this conversation you should ask them to give you a reference if ever you need one. It’s important to get this confirmed now rather than contact them again months/years later. After you have said what you needed to, it’s best to leave it there. Your boss may take this news as a shock and will probably have over a million thoughts running through their head. Chances are, they thought things were going well and didn't expect this new. Give them time to process and come back to you in few days. It’s also important to remind yourself that if you want this reference, you need to take your notice period seriously. It’s not an opportunity to slack off. Get things done and finalised before you leave and be sure to write a detailed handover document. You will also be asked to return all work items, laptop, phone, keys to company car etc. If you work to the best of your ability in the most professional manor in your last weeks, it will help you to get a glowing reference and also show your employer that you still care and have no bad feelings. Prepare For A Counter Offer When you hand in your notice your boss may approach you with a counter offer. It may be in the moment of giving your notice or it could be in the days you’re carrying out your notice. In a previous Sigmar blog, 3 Reasons Counter Offers Are A Bad Idea we explain the negative repercussions of accepting a counter offer. If your boss tries to persuade you to stay you need to remember the reasons you wanted to leave and stick with them. Never Bad Mouth No matter your reasons for leaving, you should never speak ill of your employer or the company you are leaving. No matter your feelings, you don't want to burn your bridges. You never know when you may have to work with that company again so bad mouthing them will only make things awkward for you in the future. You may also be asked to take part in an exit interview before you finish. This is a good time to engage in constructive feedback about your role and the company. It is not an opportunity to criticise and be negative. Try to be as positive as you can and if you need to say something negative be honest and polite. Your colleagues and future colleagues may also ask what your reasons are for leaving but you should keep things professional. Your negative opinion may reflect negatively on the company, but it’ll probably reflect worse on you. Say Thank You You’ve spent 40 hours a week with your colleagues for the last number of months/years so it’s definitely a good idea to say goodbye and thank you. You could do this in an email or ask your colleagues out to lunch/coffee on your last day. I always love seeing people writing goodbye posts on their LinkedIn to share their positive experience of a company. It’s always a nice touch to let people know they meant a lot to you. Handing in your notice can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you have spent a long time with the company. Once you remain respectful and carry out your notice with a positive attitude everything will be fine. It’ll also ensure you keep the door open for any future engagement with those colleagues of the company. Photo Credit: KatyRaeDesigns
Your working environment can have a huge impact on your state of mind. In fact, the majority of millennials are thought to actually prioritise a strong company culture and a great work/life balance over a high salary. As Ireland (and Europe in general) experiences the lowest unemployment rates in decades, there is strong evidence to suggest that employers are going to retain the best staff by making their offices inspiring, comfortable places to work. Looking for some inspiration as to how you could do the same? Here are our favourite workspaces from all around the world. 10. Apple Park Headquarters – Cupertino, CA Natural light, open-plan workspaces, minimalist décor and 360 views, the Apple Park in Cupertino, California, certainly looks like something out of this world. However, the new layout has rankled some Apple employees, with many threatening to quit if they are forced to work in shared spaces. While Apple’s intention may be to encourage a spirit of creativity and collaboration, research shows that workers operate best when able to control their environment – by choosing to work in private or open spaces, for example. Images: Apple 9. Beats by Dr Dre Headquarters – Los Angeles, CA Beats’ swanky new LA headquarters are full of communal spaces, bright colours and evocative artwork, as well as a healthy bit of greenery. Employees are free to sit and work wherever they please. This workplace certainly upholds Beats’ ethos of generating ‘energy and excitement’ through their product. Images: Bestor Architecture 8. Red Bull HQ - Fuschl-am-See, Austria The producer of the world’s most-consumed energy drink commissioned native sculptor Jos Pirkner to design this artistic and stunning headquarters. A building of such great character is ideal for the creative minds at Red Bull. If red bull gives you wings I know I’ll be flying straight to Austria. 7. Etsy Headquarters – Brooklyn, NY The cosy chairs, arts and crafts stations and natural wood represent the personal touch Etsy products are renowned for in this beautiful New York office space. The solar powered complex is decorated exclusively with products designed and manufactured Etsy sellers, and employees are encouraged to socialise over a twice-weekly communal meal, nicknamed ‘Eatsy’. Images: Etsy 6. Corus Entertainment, Corus Quay – Toronto, Canada The headquarters of this Canadian entertainment and broadcast company are world famous for the atrium, dominated by a helter-skelter and stunning views of the Toronto waterfront. The leafy walls and spacious interior are conducive to creative thinking and unrestricted freedom to let the mind wander. Images: Corus Entertainment 5. Pionen’s White Mountain Office – Stockholm, Sweden It seems somewhat ironic that Pionen, an internet service provider, should choose to base themselves in the centre of a mountain – not exactly a location compatible with connectivity. Allegedly inspired by villains’ lairs in James Bond movies, the workspace combines all four elements – earth, wind, fire and water – to ‘bring the outside in’ for workers, according to the architects. Images: Archie Expo 4. Zynga Headquarters – San Francisco, CA Social gaming service Zynga embraces its strengths in their Silicon Valley HQ. All 1,700 employees are encouraged to shoot zombies, play ping pong and sketch in the designated areas around the enormous office complex. As of May 2019, Zynga are looking to sell their premises for a whopping $600m. Perhaps the zombies are included? Images: Office Snapshots 3. Airbnb – San Francisco Airbnb’s San Francisco base is inspired entirely by the site’s listings. Workspaces include house boats, tents, shepherd huts and beach cabins – all in the interior of the Airbnb building. By giving employees the opportunity to work in almost any environment, the management are allowing staff the opportunity to be their most productive self, all within the comfort of their ‘own home.’ Images: Gensler 2. Google - Everywhere Google’s offices around the world are famous for their creative décor, intended to inspire their workers. From hanging work cubicles in the Zurich office, to the swings and cars featured in the Mexican base, Google employees are never short of interesting visual stimuli to keep their brain cogs whirring. Images: Interior Architects 1. Inventionland Design HQ – Pittsburgh, PA We’ve seen some pretty inventive offices, but Inventionland Design’s Pittsburgh-based HQ takes the biscuit. It’s unsurprising, really, as they are a creative invention designer. Employees can choose to work in caverns, huts, on board pirate ships or in a tree house, and dip their toes into the man-made lagoon in their spare time. The office layout is so mind-blowingly imaginative that Inventionland Design run tours around the premises. Images: Office Snapshots So, there you have it! Our top 10 incredible workspaces from around the world. What all of these spaces have in common are considerable amounts of natural light, rooms that reflect the company’s unique brand and the opportunity for workers to collaborate, but also find space for privacy. Which office is your favourite?
The tiny Irish island of Arranmore hit headlines a few weeks agoo with the announcement that they are seeking remote workers to telecommute from the island, in an attempt to boost the population. Arranmore boasts 469 inhabitants, only 22% of which are currently employed. The island council has written an open letter to Australian and US workers, citing the high-speed broadband, Guinness on tap and idyllic beaches as reasons to consider the move. While life on Arranmore would certainly put the ‘remote’ in ‘remote working’, such a call demonstrates an awareness of the future of the workplace beyond that shown by many large corporations in mainland Ireland. In a time where the workforce is seeking greater flexibility and better work/life balance, employers will find it difficult to attract and retain top quality talent without providing any remote working options, making it an imperative that proactive business leaders consider the advantages and disadvantages of employing remote staff. The Pros Larger Talent Pool The most significant advantage of hiring remote workers is the access employers now have to a vast, international talent pool. When a job posting is not restricted to workers within commuting distance, thousands of potential superstar employees suddenly become ripe for the taking. Cut Down on Costs There are two key ways in which hiring remote workers can significantly reduce company costs. Firstly, in not requiring employees to work from a central office location, businesses are removing the need to pay for renting/buying a workspace, the internet, electricity, cleaning, computers and broadband – the list goes on. Secondly, remote workers are often considerably better value that office-based workers. If an employer does not require their staff to physically turn up to work each day, they can hire from any area – including ones with a lower cost of living than where the company’s headquarters are based, such as rural zones. On sites such as UpWork, for example, remote workers’ prices range from $4/hr to $70+/hr, hailing from all over the world. Additionally, there has been research to suggest that remote workers are more likely to accept lower pay, work longer hours and forgo company-provided health insurance if it meant they were permitted to work from the comfort of their own home. Higher Retention Rate A study by Staples Advantage found that 76% of remote workers considered themselves more loyal to their company after being offered the option to telecommute, and that 39% have turned down a job, a promotion or outright quit because the company did not offer flexible working options. Many traditionally office-based workers are finding that remote working is an increasingly attractive alternative model to consider, as they have children or gain other responsibilities outside of their professional lives. More and more employers are offering remote working options to their staff to prevent competitors, who are similarly wising up to the advantages of this system, from poaching their most experienced employees…perhaps snapping up a few of their own along the way! Increased Productivity Levels ‘Work smarter, not longer’ is fast becoming the mantra of the modern workforce. If an employee is able to tailor their working day to their own personal preferences, in an environment of their choosing, they’re considerably more likely to be productive and engaged throughout the day. That being said, remote workers are 53% more likely to work over 40 hours a week, according to recent studies, increasing organisational productivity as a result. The Cons Potential Security Risks The Blueface Business Communications Technology Insight Report 2018 found that 57% of organisations with 200+ employees had experienced a cyber incident, such as hacking or phishing. When employees are permitted to use their own computer equipment in a non-secure environment, they are considerably more vulnerable to malicious cyber-attacks, potentially compromising company data security. However, there are numerous steps employers can take to overcome these odds, such as recommending workers avoid using public WiFi networks and providing stringent security guidelines upon hiring new staff. Loss of Company Culture While remote working options are statistically proven to actually increase employee engagement, such a work arrangement company-wide can somewhat dilute the sense of culture that has been so integral to successful modern business models until now. Employees are less likely to develop a genuine rapport online, let alone arrange to socialise out of hours or organically collaborate on a new idea. That being said, there are some great ways employers can promote a positive culture for their remote workers, such as the ones explored in this Forbes article. Issues with Communication Inevitably, if managers are only communicating with staff during brief windows of time each day, there is ample opportunity for the misinterpretation of instructions, or a lack of clarity in the project objective. It’s more of a commitment for an employee to pick up the phone and call their supervisor to clear something up than to pop their heads round a door, or to pass someone in a corridor. However, if employers rise to the challenge and adapt their communication practices to suit a remote workforce, there’s no reason why communication should hinder the productivity of the company. Investing in an instant messaging app for employees and ensuring managers are in constant contact with their team throughout the day will eliminate most potential issues before they have a chance to cause problems. Face-to-face interactions, such as video conferencing, are a further valuable tool for managers to ensure that they are getting the most out of their staff. Our workforce is evolving in a way that may feel scary or uncontrollable to some employers. However, the benefits to remote working are hard to be argued with – there are many great reasons companies should consider moving with the times and expanding their talent pool beyond their immediate geographical location. Arranmore is on the right track – you should be too!
Our Recruitment Consultants look at so many CV’s every day and they know exactly what makes a good CV and even more so, what makes a bad CV. If you want to impress a recruiter/hiring manager with your CV, avoid these very common mistakes. Don’t Forget to Include Contact Details You may just assume that sending your CV via email is enough for an employer to contact you, but often CVs get forwarded around and saved on hard drives/desktops so the original email you sent could get lost along with your contact email address. Always put your email address and contact number on your CV. via GIPHY Don’t Use Personal Details It’s good to show your personality through your CV and give the hiring manager a sense of who you are, but some personal details are too personal for your CV. Avoid putting your relationship status on your CV e.g. married, divorced. It’s irrelevant information and it could affect you negatively. All a hiring manger wants to know at first is if you are suitable for the job, leave the personal stuff until you are in the job and getting to know the people you are working with. via GIPHY Don't Be Vague About Important Details Too often job seekers will state a percentage like “Increased social media engagement 100%” with no additional details or context. This leaves the hiring manager to assume the worst about your accomplishment. If you can't be specifc or give detail about a statistic, it's best to just leave it out. via GIPHY Don’t Leave Gaps Time frames are so important on CVs. Dates on your CV should be reflected by month to month time frames, as opposed to year to year. Often people will avoid putting dates on a CV or will try to be vague about the dates in order to hide unemployment gaps. This can look suspicious to employers. It’s better to be honest and give reasons for any gaps instead of trying to hide them. via GIPHY Don’t Include Graphics Leave out fancy graphics, complicated formatting and decorative pictures where possible. They tend to make it more difficult for employers to read. Keep things simple, clear and detailed. If you work in Graphic Design or Marketing a more creative CV could be what makes you stand out to an employer, but avoid making it over complicated. A CV is supposed to outline your experience and skills and the last thing you want is an over complicated design diluting your message. If you want to showcase your work, you could send a ZIP file with a few examples, if you feel it's relevant. via GIPHY
Job security, salary and benefits, regular hours and a sensible work-life balance are what most jobseekers look for in any new employment opportunity. Working at a start-up firm can throw these factors into uncertainty - it’s not all bean bags and avocado toast. However, with Ireland recently being ranked number three in Europe for start-ups, have you considered the possibility that the excitement, reward potential and personal development that are intrinsic to start-up culture could be exactly what you’re looking for? Here are some pros and cons of working for a start-up company to shed some light on the reality of the situation. THE PROS Room for Growth The clue is in the name, but start-ups really are just starting out. That means that, as an early employee, you will be a key part of the company’s development and later success. You’ll be working side by side with the founders from the get-go, learning directly from your bosses and gaining invaluable experience in areas outside of your job remit. As everyone at a start-up is involved in the fight for the survival of the company, you’ll often be expected to take on responsibilities that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to expand your skill set fairly rapidly. As the company grows, so will your responsibilities, and soon you could find yourself in a senior leadership position at a successful firm. Freedom ‘Freedom’ is evident in two ways in start-up culture. Firstly, in the flexibility of working hours: employees are frequently permitted to choose their own working hours and to work from home, since so much business is conducted over the phone and online. Secondly, start-ups are associated with huge levels of innovative freedom. Start-ups are under huge amounts of pressure to keep up in the fast lane or fail, and so grant their employees a considerable creative license to break boundaries and completely reimagine ways to capture consumer engagement. If dynamic, forward thinking in a collaborative, close-knit team is your forte, working in a start-up could be the ideal working environment for you! Purpose When you join a start-up, you know that you will never be simply a ‘cog in a machine.’ As part of a small team driven by collaboration, the company’s mission will be at the forefront of your job description and decision-making process. In a regular office environment, middle management and sheer size of personnel can mean you often feel undervalued and perhaps unconnected with the bigger picture of what the company is trying to achieve. There’s no such issue in start-ups! In an intense, focused environment, you will see the impact of your work first hand and have a significant role in shaping the success of the company, giving you a sense of job satisfaction unlike much other. THE CONS You will Work…Hard More responsibility means a heavier workload and while, in the long term, you may walk away with dozens of great new skills, learning on the job while likely being a single-person department is a tough undertaking. You might find yourself working long hours for little compensation, with only yours and your colleagues’ faith in the company’s mission to keep the candle burning. Work-life balance would likely be called into the mix (what balance?) as you are compelled to take your work home with you – who else will do what needs to be done? Lack of Security Harvard Business School estimates the start-up failure rate to be an enormous 90-95%. That’s an incredible (and terrifying) statistic. Tech start-ups are at particularly high risk, as there’s always the chance that a competitor could sweep the market with a brand-new development, cutting the legs from under competing companies. Leaving a comfortable corporate job with a steady salary, dependable benefits and little risk of redundancy in exchange for a high-risk, unstable work environment that could go bust at any moment is not a gamble one should take lightly. Furthermore, while start-up founders may be excellent pitchers and have garnered piles of seed money from investors, that is no evidence of their leadership ability. With less rigid corporate structure and more direct interaction with the company bosses, you could find yourself working in close proximity to underqualified leaders that will not inspire you to commit wholeheartedly to a venture which requires your unadulterated passion to succeed. Not Much Financial Reward To begin with, at least. Start-up employees notoriously earn significantly reduced salaries until the company begins to achieve real success. After all, it is in investors’ interests not to allow their ventures’ employees to get too comfortable. Spurring your team on with the promise of eventual riches is intended to be a large motivator for hard work and innovation within the company, although you may never end up reaping these promised benefits if the start-up crashes out, like so many do. That being said, modern-age start-ups are ridiculed and envied in equal measure for providing their employees with perks such as free lunches (kombucha, anyone?) and wellbeing sessions. For example, personal finance company Credit Karma offers an on-site spa for employees, as well as nap nooks and music jam rooms, and Airbnb gives their employees a $2,000 stipend for annual holiday expenses. There you have it – the good and the bad about working in a start-up. The stakes are high but, if you make your move wisely, the rewards could well outweigh the struggle you experience at the start. In an exclusive interview with David Dempsey, Senior Vice President of Salesforce, he told us that leaving his job in a well-known tech company was ‘the biggest risk’ he’s ever taken, leaving his stable job for a three-man start-up in 2000. Now, Salesforce employs thousands of people across Europe and America and is one of the world’s most renowned SaaS companies. It just goes to show – taking a plunge and embracing start-up culture could be your ticket to success too.
You’ve found the job of your dreams at an incredible company. You scroll through the job description, nodding confidently as you realise that they must have written this position for you. There’s no other explanation as to why it suits you so perfectly. Until… You gulp. They want experience – two whole years of it. And certification in a bunch of fields you’ve never been an expert in. You’ve only just graduated, or you’re looking for a career change. How are you supposed to have all this professional experience? Despite this minor setback, you know you could ace this position, if only they’d give you a chance. But how do you convey your competence on paper, let alone in an interview? How do you convince the hiring manager that you are worthy of consideration for a job you seem underqualified for? Here are a few steps you can take to position your candidacy as competitive in a scenario where you might be the underdog. Step One: Is this role really for you? The first question you must ask yourself is if the role is really, truly appropriate for you. Concluding that it is not will save you a lot of time, energy and potential disappointment in the future. However, if you genuinely believe that you could succeed in this position and will not be satisfied unless you give the application process a shot, then absolutely go for it. It’s acceptable to take the years of experience companies require with a pinch of salt, although you should consider them to be a guide. If you’re looking for an entry-level position, ‘2+ years of experience’ is a more surmountable barrier than ‘10+ years of experience.’ We’ll get into this more later, but take some time to reflect on non-professional experiences you have that could feasibly count towards the 2+ years this company is looking for. If you have proven interest and experience at university or transferrable skills in a related area, you can definitely use these to strengthen the credibility of your application. Furthermore, a company looking for candidates with an MBA may consider a candidate with a Bachelors if they can demonstrate their exceptionalism in other ways. If the role requires a specific qualification that you do not have, this could also be a potential immediate disqualifier. If you’re repeatedly seeing jobs advertised that look right for you but all require a certification in Google Analytics, perhaps consider going on a course to fill your knowledge gap. Sites that offer great online learning and development opportunities for a range of prices include Coursera, Khan Academy and Codecademy. Step Two: Research, research, research So, you’ve taken the plunge and you’re going to apply to a job you think you’re underqualified for. Now you need to ensure you understand the job as well as anyone with years of experience in that role would. You can do this through reading online, but the most effective way to gain understanding of a profession is to speak to someone who works in that field. Mobilise your contact base and set up coffee or informational interviews with people who can help you understand the specifics of the job you’re pitching yourself as the perfect fit for. Networking could also be a great way to secure an introduction to the company before you even apply, flagging your name with them. You never know who has a connection at the company of your dreams, so be sure to reach out far and wide. It’s no secret that personal referrals make all the difference when applying for a job. Step Three: Put it all down on paper The only way you’re going to be able to compete against more experienced candidates is by doing significantly more homework than they do. You’ve already (hopefully) researched the company to within an inch of its life – now ensure that your passion for their brand/product/service shines through in your covering letter. Demonstrate your knowledge about the business by making specific references in your explanation as to why you want the role – this can definitely help assuage any doubts they have about your experience level. Employers will often take unpaid experiences as evidence of professional experience, such as internships, involvement in clubs and societies and volunteering. Be sure to examine all of your achievements through the lens of what they could bring to the role, as you may be pleasantly surprised to find you already possess proven experience in areas you thought you lacked, simply because these activities took place in your free time or holidays. Combine your transferrable skills with your qualifications to highlight your suitability for the role. Skills to highlight might be: Event planning People skills Leadership Marketing Fundraising Creativity Organisation You’ve spent time thinking about how great that role would be great for you – perhaps also consider why you would be great for the role. What interesting insight could you bring to the company? Do you have a unique perspective or angle that would add value to the team? Make your individuality shine throughout your CV and cover letter. Step Four: Nail the interview Congratulations! Your gorgeously tailored CV and rivetingly specific cover letter have landed you an interview with the hiring manager. They’re interested in you, despite the fact you may not be a conventional candidate for the position. They’re willing to take a chance on you…for now. So how do you continue to exude confidence and experience in a face-to-face interaction with a company representative? Firstly, and hopefully obviously, prepare. You’re entering the room with the disadvantage of not being able to rely on personal experience of the role to support your answers. Therefore, you’ll need to consolidate your knowledge of the company and job description, as well as how your own experiences tie into what they’re looking for. Practise answers to the guaranteed interview questions you’ll likely face and be ready to defend your lack of qualification for the role, if needed. Remember to never phrase a response as a negative – always focus on the positive. For example, never begin an answer with “I know I lack experience in X, but…” or “I know I don’t have Y qualification, but…”. Instead, you should highlight your abilities and apply them to the task in question. “My tenure as the chairperson of my college’s Business and Enterprise Society enabled me to practise my leadership and project management skills in a way which is applicable to Z task in these ways…” for instance. While it’s important to bend the truth to your advantage, you must never lie. The interviewer may then push you on it and you could slip up under pressure. No employer wants to hire a dishonest worker, and such a mistake may result in your name being blacklisted for future opportunities. Furthermore, if a lie got you into the job and then you found you were unable to complete the tasks assigned to you as a result, you could lose your job and evoke serious bad feeling from a company you may have to encounter again in the future. Honesty is the best policy – just be shrewd in how you phrase your answers. To conclude, you are likely more qualified than you think for the job of your dreams. All it takes is a little bit of research, tailoring and careful phrasing to upgrade your position from that of an outsider to a competitive candidate. Even if you don’t land the role using these steps, you will have learned a huge amount about an area you previously may not have been overly familiar with. Your research will certainly be applicable to future job applications and may even inspire you to pursue a line of work you had previously not considered. You’ve got nothing to lose – what are you waiting for?