Our Blog

How to Land a Job Above Your Experience Level

It’s a universal truth that the further you progress in your career, the longer it takes to find a new job. While many factors play a role, there are simply fewer opportunities for management roles and companies become more discerning with the applicants that apply. In entry-level positions, soft skills and education are the primary gatekeepers. But as you climb the ladder, your credentials, skill-sets, leadership experience, and other abilities are put under a microscope to examine how you will bring value to the company.

This process becomes infinitely more difficult if you’re trying to land a new job above your experience level. Even if your skill set and background aligns strongly with a position, recruiters and hiring managers can be reticent to “test” outside hires and may prefer to staff the position with someone who is already performing the role. That’s not to say you can’t move up through a new job. However, you need to be strategic in how you present yourself, your background, and your accomplishments to show you’re ready for the next step up.

Leverage Informational Interviews: Before you begin actively job searching above your current role, talk to those who’ve made the journey. Identify a handful of individuals who currently hold the job you are working towards. Whether they are mentors or casual acquaintances reach out via social media or have a mutual friend make the introduction. Set-up an informational interview to ask for guidance and listen to what helped them achieve their current role and any obstacles they overcame. By learning from others’ mistakes and achievements, it will shorten your learning curve and help jumpstart your progress.

Include a Cover Letter: Never turn down the opportunity to provide a tailored cover letter. This is especially true if you’re applying for jobs more senior to your current role. The cover letter will allow you to address gaps in job experience or perceived weaknesses in your resume. Your cover letter is your opportunity to highlight why you think you fit this role and how you can add value to the company. It could mean the difference between “thanks for applying” and “we’d like to discuss this more.”

Show Initiative: If there are notable gaps in your skill set or work experience that may prevent you from taking the next step in your career, it’s essential to show that you’re currently addressing the issue proactively. Whether through continuing education, certifications, volunteering, or consulting, show hiring companies that you’re dedicated to improving your weaknesses and that you’re truly invested in taking the next step in your professional development.

Highlight Key Achievements: We don’t mean you should flaunt your blue ribbons or gold stars. Rather, use your current and past experience to draw parallels to your desired role. For example, maybe the role you want requires leadership experience but you’ve never had direct reports. Dig deep into your experience and identify a few core examples where you helped guide or lead a team, project, or initiative that drove tangible benefits for your company. Just because you don’t hold a leadership position everyday doesn’t mean you haven’t exercised those skills successfully in the past.

What advice do you give to those who want to land a higher position outside their current company?

Burchard & Associates is an executive search firm specialized in accounting and finance recruiting across all business sectors, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale/distribution, healthcare, financial services, and more.

If you’re searching for executive positions in the accounting or finance industries, be sure to check out the latest job postings on our website and LinkedIn!

Burchard & Associates provides a personal approach to accounting and tax recruitment for St. Louis and beyond. We are ready to listen to YOU.

Get in Touch