No one wants to be a grunt worker forever — but you don’t relish the idea of working in lower-level positions at any point in your career. Nothing about the low pay, lower benefits and almost nonexistent autonomy sparks your interests, and you find it difficult to become passionate about work that benefits someone else more than it does you.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a good way to skip entry-level positions entirely. Fortunately, you can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in the trenches. This guide will help you build a career that takes you straight to the top — even if you aren’t even at the foundations yet.
1. Study for the C-Suite
It should go without saying that you should constantly be striving to improve your knowledge and skill, but many workers waste time at lower levels by becoming better trained and more educated for their current positions instead of the roles they hope to achieve. Instead of preparing your skill-set for an entry-level position, you should be looking ahead to the skills and characteristics of leadership and working to accrue those.
However, hiring panels for upper-level positions don’t like to bring on candidates who lack real-world experience, so it is imperative that you don’t spend all your formative years in the classroom. You should pursue an MBA while working, so you gain the skills you need for tomorrow while learning the real ins and outs of business today.
Though it does mean spending some time at lower-level employment, with your advanced credentials, employers won’t keep you there for long.
2. Invest in Internships
One way to catapult yourself past entry-level positions before you step foot in the workplace is to spend your spare time in high school and college participating in internships. In truth, an internship is like a part-time entry-level position, but because they are temporary, you shouldn’t be worried about getting stuck at low levels for long.
Internships allow you to try out a number of different industries and different employers without committing to any, so you can make a more informed decision with regards to your career path.
To make the most of your internship, you should be engaged in information-gathering. You should try to ask your superiors as much as possible about their jobs — and the skills and credentials that got them there. You should also try to connect with upper-level management to learn about their experiences.
Meanwhile, you should also be making a good impression by completing your duties well, so you can grow your network and perhaps land a job offer when you are ready to enter the workforce.
3. Find the Right Position
Employers are getting craftier in how they advertise jobs, knowing that few top job seekers are enticed by positions with “junior” in the title. These days, most job ads sound like they are for immensely important, upper-level roles — when in fact they remain entry-level positions without much authority, autonomy or pay.
Thus, you need to be a sleuth when it comes to reading and analyzing job descriptions. Immediately, you can disregard requirements like “3 to 5 years of experience;” all jobs have this prerequisite, so it doesn’t mean much. However, you should also be respectful of jobs that demand “15 to 20 years of experience” because you probably aren’t ready for that.
Instead, you should search for a meaty middle-level position with duties that interest you and qualifications that mostly fit your credentials.
4. Assemble Your Application
Once you have identified a few appropriate first roles outside the entry-level space, you need to ensure your application materials are impeccable, so hiring managers don’t toss them out at first glance.
The first step is perfecting your resume; you need to show you have all the skills listed in the job description and then some. This does mean listing relevant talents and abilities, especially when it comes to software tools, but it also might mean providing an example of your expertise, like building a personal website with additional information about your education, work history, interests and career goals.
You should be equipped with examples proving your soft skills, especially communication and leadership. And, it should go without saying, you should always come off professionally, on paper and in person.
If you are ambitious, you likely hate the idea of spending any time in the lower levels of an organization. Fortunately, you can rise up the ranks quickly with proactive education, experience and training. If you keep your eyes on the c-suite, you’ll be there before you know it.