When you first start out doing anything, a new business, or a new career path, you probably won’t have a track record to sell yourself with. But if you’re capable and hard working, you don’t need to start at the bottom somewhere and spend years working your way up the chain. You can become an expert quickly and rival people who’ve spent their lives in a career or business.
The most important thing is to identify the what you need to be able to deliver. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes (if we’re talking about a job, your customer is your employer or boss). What do they want from you? What can you do for them? Why would they want to pay you? If you can answer those questions with confidence and prove you can deliver, you’ll be head and shoulders over most people in any field or endeavor.
Start with an expert resume
Make a list of everything that your customer will pay you for. Start each item with an action verb (e.g., “Create content that is clear, concise and actionable”). Research everything you can about the job, product or service. Find job listings or product advertising that write down the most important items. Make your list longer. Write down everything that could possibly matter to a prospective customer.
When you can’t think of anything else to add, refine the list. Look for similar items and try to combine them in a single, meaningful topic. Illustrate with examples where necessary.
Select the 5 to 9 most important items and write them down separately. This may take some deep thinking, and maybe revisiting your research. Less than five isn’t usually well rounded enough, but more than nine will lose focus on what’s important.
When you’re done with your list, this is your expert resume.
Create an expert portfolio
With your end in mind, work backwards to a plan of action. Go through your expert resume and find three ways to prove you can deliver each item on the list. What can you do for someone you know or have access to, such as a local business owner? The more influential the person the better. If you can find people connected to the field you are pursuing, even better. You can use the same person for multiple tasks, but it will be more worthwhile to find as many different people as possible.
Once you’re done, you will have 15 to 27 tasks to accomplish. That’s your portfolio. That’s your proof for an expert resume.
Become an expert
With your expert resume and portfolio of proof in hand, get to work living up to it. Take each of your tasks as a single objective:
- List what is needed to complete each objective. What do you need to do to get it done? Focus on the big rocks. Don’t over think this. You just need a high-level plan on what it will take to get each one done.
- Prepare to do the work. Is there anything on the list you can’t do right now? Do you need to brush up on a skill, or learn something new? If you have to learn something new, get it done as quickly as possible. You don’t need to be a master yet, you’ll become a master in your new job.
- Offer your services and state your objective. Reach out to your test customers and let them know your objective. Tell them you are building a portfolio and would like to perform X for free. All that you ask in return is that, if they are satisfied, they will provide you with a letter of reference.
- Start easy. Start with the easiest and work your way up. It helps to get some momentum going to build confidence.
- Don’t get self conscious. Be confident, but relax. If you need help, ask. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Remember, you’re working for free.
Take it to the bank
Once you’ve successfully completed your tasks, you’ve got an expert resume, a solid portfolio with influential references to back it up, and most importantly, the confidence you can do whatever you’re setting out to do.
What do you want to be an expert in?