Can’t get in? Look for the Side Door.

Early in your career, it’s hard to get the exact role you are after in the corporate world. You will often hear you lost out to a candidate with more experience, or you may not hear back at all!

Santi Widiana has gone from working in a Moorabbin surf shop to working in Human Resources within global management consulting and now with tech giant – all by getting into the company first in a lesser role, and then working towards where she wanted to be once she was in.

I caught up with Santi this week for a coffee, and we spoke about her experience and pathway into Human Resources Specialisation. I asked her what wisdom she could share with up-and-coming candidates who want to get to their dream role, but keep getting knocked back at the front door.

Essentially it boiled down to 3 key aspects:

Maximise your chances to get a break in a business at the bottom level.

Be curious, Be eager. Talk to family and friend networks, ask them if they know anyone in a business, or if they know any recruiters. I got my break through you, John, by leveraging my Aunt’s business relationship with Plan B.

Use your customer service skills to good effect in entry-level roles.

Meet everyone in the office. Impress and do your all tasks, no matter what they are, with positivity. Tougher Execs are like difficult customers sometimes – and put your retail and/or hospitality experience to good use here.

Once you’re in, keep yourself open to opportunities that come your way.

If you’re showing a willingness to learn, good managers will seek to support you in your journey. Expose yourself to different parts of a business, and you may find your calling in an unexpected place.

It all reminds me of a 1965 Country & Western song, “Do what you do, do well” song that my father used to sing to me (it’s on Youtube!) when I was a young boy; the philosophy being:  you’ll go places if you take pride in any job – no matter how small it might be.



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