After my senior year in high school, I auditioned for a musical with a local theater group in the Wichita area. The musical was Beauty and the Beast.
To set the stage correctly (stage…get it?), it’s important to know I had done some acting before. But it was never very good acting, and I had only one or two leads. I had never done any singing or dancing. I was a complete noob when it came to those things.
Before going into the audition, I listened to the musical soundtrack probably twenty times. Specifically, I listened to all of the lead guy parts upwards of fifty times. The actual audition portion of getting into the show only involved singing a pre-determined song and doing a short dance, but I knew if there were callbacks, we would be asked to sing, read, and dance parts.
I’m an auditory learner, so I knew it would be crucial for me to know the songs by heart even by the time the auditions rolled around. I had to know every note because by golly, if I couldn’t sing well, I was at least going to sing on pitch.
Long story short, I was clearly the most well-prepared person going into callbacks. I was also clearly not the best actor/singer/dancer. In fact, there were multiple guys there that, to this day, I believe were and are much better in probably all three categories.
But I was so well prepared that I was able to land the part of Beast without having almost any musical theater skill.
The secret is that you don’t have to be the most qualified to get the job.
Yes, you want to have skills so you don’t flop. And no, you obviously don’t want to lie saying you can do something you can’t (or can’t figure out quickly).
But if you can simply do such a good job and prove to someone you’re willing to work hard, very little after that matters to them. They see your work ethic. You stand out so much because no one else put in the prep time to be able to kill it like you did.
There is so much advantage lost when you don’t really put effort into pursuing job opportunities.
So much of what I’ve learned about landing a job—with experience or without—comes from crafting a narrative and investing in a company before you even get hired.
If instead you just focus on a few opportunities, put quality work into each one, prove the value you’ve created in the past, and show the value you’ll create if hired, you’ll surpass 90% of the competition who didn’t do their work to get the “callback.”
Make the hiring manager’s job easy by making it clear to them how much they need you on their team. Don’t be cocky, but be prepared for that specific opportunity. Be so good at showing your excitement and your ability to create value that, even without experience, they can’t help but give you the part.
Joey Wickham is a turkey-farmer-turned-account-manager who has lived in a cabin without electricity to learn about remote missions, blogged daily for 365+ days, and completed Praxis. He’s currently creating value in a sales role at Vital Interaction in Austin, Texas. Check out his Crash pitch to learn more about how he’s crashed his career.
This post was originally published on Joey’s blog.