Why is it that nobody will even consider you for a job unless you’ve already been doing it for 3-5 years?
I have a theory, and it involves Spiderman and Jurassic World.
Origin story: our hero seeks their dream job
We’ve heard about the multiple careers we’re all supposed to have in this changing world of work, but actually getting started seems like another matter entirely. Whether you’re trying to pivot from one career into another, or you’re just trying to get your first one underway, it’s often incredibly hard to get started in a new field.
Basically, without the experience, you can’t get the job, but you need the job to get the experience in the first place. It seems like nobody wants to take a chance on an unproven employee, even one with a great work/study track record. Why?
Enter the Spiderman
Would it surprise you to know that of the top 10 grossing films in 2014, only one wasn’t a reboot, sequel or adaptation from a popular book? The Hobbit, Hunger Games, Captain America and X-men and Transformers all had great hits that year. The only blockbuster not based on a book/sequel was ‘The Lego Movie’, (and if we’re being honest, that one was mostly just a glorious combo of childhood nostalgia and the delicious dry wit of Lego Batman).
Hollywood Blockbusters have gradually morphed from a mix of different genres into a predictable parade of Marvel sequels and reboots of Spiderman (honestly, how many times will poor Uncle Ben have to die?). Occasionally they mix it up by adding a new instalment of a popular trilogy from 20 years ago, like Die Hard or Jurassic World.
So why do they keep doing it? Because we keep going to see them!
As I write this, I’m getting excited to go see the second Guardians of the Galaxy. I LOVED Jurassic World, and got a little flutter in my stomach when I saw Jeff Goldblum is coming back for the next one.
It boils down to this:
- Movies cost a lot of money to make, and they get more expensive every year. Pirates of the Caribbean 4 holds the current record, with a $375 million budget (and surprise, it was a sequel!).
- Our entertainment dollar can be spent in more places than ever: online, video games, Netflix, just to name a few, so more people are chasing less money from consumers.
- Hollywood studios are businesses, with investors to keep happy and bottom lines to keep
Think about it; if you were going to spend that kind of money to make a movie, would you take a risk on a new story, or go with something that you know is going to work? The safest bet is the one you won last time.
The moment of truth
The reason it’s so hard for us to change careers (or break into our first one for that matter) is the same reason there’s a new Jason Bourne movie every 2 years.
Hiring a new person is an expensive and risky process. Experts usually estimate it costs around the role’s annual salary to find, replace and train someone up to do a job. Even worse, most places don’t have the time to wait for someone to learn how to do the job. In the time it takes to train someone up, their competitors have the chance to get ahead in the market, and sometimes an advantage as slim as that can make the difference.
As a result, businesses have very little margin for error. They often can’t afford to take a risk on an someone without experience, and would rather go with the formula that someone else has already tested for them. Plus there’s always the risk of people leaving after all that investment has gone into the worker. (and it’s not just us pesky young ‘uns doing this either).
What this all adds up to is a very limited number of true ‘entry level’ roles in the market. Everyone wants to hire “Marketing Director; the sequel”, but nobody wants to risk their money on “Marketer”, a little independent film without a ready-made fan base.
Well, that’s depressing!
So, how do we get that ‘fan base’ (by which I mean experience)? Well, that’s a lot harder, and if you’ve got some great tips, I’d love to hear them. I’m also in the process of transitioning, so I can tell you, I feel your pain.
To keep reminding yourself that you’re a wonderful human being, with a track record of working hard and learning things quickly, it gets tough after a while. With all the ‘no’s that come your way, it’s hard to keep on asking, but don’t give up.
In the last six months, I’ve done all sorts of crazy things to try and get myself to where I want to be. I quit a comfortable job I was good at, to study my passion. I’ve worked as an intern, volunteered, wheedled my way into networking events and applied for a lot of jobs that were out of my league. I even had a couple of interviews for dream jobs (one role was cancelled due to funding at the last minute and the other I came second to someone with industry experience). And all of this is ok.
I know that eventually, it’s going to happen, and when it does, it’s going to be big. Jurassic World II with Jeff Goldblum big.
Are you struggling to ‘make it big’ in your chosen profession? Even just trying to get your foot in the door? Join Team Grownup on Facebook. We’re a private group, we look after each other and share advice. Because you are wonderful, we just need to help them see it.