How do I get into an industry that I'm qualified for, needs staff, but doesn't want inexperience?
February 13, 2007 7:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for advice, thoughts and tips on how to break into a fairly closed industry (diving support), that I'm qualified for but have little experience in and no contacts in. Details inside..

The details
I'm changing career - moving from office/call centre roles into dive support. I retrained as an ALST (Assistant Life Support Technician), which certifies me to look after saturation divers while they're living in decompression chambers.

This is the first step on my dream career ladder. I done my homework before I committed myself to the training and there's a strong demand for qualified life support staff in the commercial diving industry. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but getting in to the industry is proving harder than I expected, unless you know someone..

The problem
There were 12 of us on the course and the only ones to get jobs so far are those who have parents or relatives working with firms that supply dive support personnel or services (e.g SubSea7 or Technip). One admitted his mum got him a job, another used his brother and another his father. Fair enough, I'd do the same.

But when I call companies and personnel agencies, they keep telling me that they're only interested in staff with experience and tell me to come back when I have it. Catch 22 situation!

The question
I've no relatives/friends to help me, so how do I get my foot in the door and get a job in an industry where having an inside contact can be useful?

I'm looking for practical tips, advice and especially success stories - doesn't need to be diving related either. What's the best way of getting yourself noticed and hired as a newbie looking to break into a new industry like this one? Apart from perseverance, what else can I do to get into my dream career?

If it helps, my working background is customer service, call centres and employee communications (see why I want to change?). I have offshore survival certs for the UK/Norwegian sectors, an offshore medical and happy to travel. If you'd like to be my inside contact, even better! I'll buy you a pint.
posted by Nugget to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The obvious possibility would be to ask those people in your training class who used their family connections to help you get an in.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:07 AM on February 13, 2007

Interning is the sort of time honoured way to get experience when you can't get a job without it. Ask one of those companies if they'd be willing to take you on as an unpaid intern for a period of time. At the end of that time, perhaps they'll be so impressed that they'll hire you, or you'll have X period of time worth of experience to take to another company.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2007

Faint of Butt - thanks, we've already mentioned it to those that have got positions so we'll see what happens.

Jacquilynne - I thought about an internship and sat down and worked out the cost. Unfortunately, most of my savings went on getting qualified and at the moment it's not 'financially viable' as my bank said!
posted by Nugget at 9:57 AM on February 13, 2007

The best way I've found to get a foot in the door in a tight industry is to take seasonal work. Companies that are hiring a few dozen employees for a short peak season can't afford to be so choosy, and turnover is high enough that just showing up for a second season can make you the most experienced worker there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:48 AM on February 13, 2007

Try Veolia. Just got off one of their dive vessels. I believe they are hiring.
posted by MotorNeuron at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2007

Where are you? I'm working at Cal Dive in Louisiana. They asked me when I signed on to try LST, but I'm more into the diving.

I'd say come down, go door-to-door to all the companies. You might have to take something else besides being a Sat Betty at first. Winter's usually the slow season, and there was a big hiring surge last summer, so it's lean times. I'm on the beach right now myself.

Oh god, I see you're in Scotland. I don't know. I know they hired some foreign LSTs over here in the summer.
posted by atchafalaya at 5:48 PM on February 13, 2007

Thanks MotorNeuron, application away!

Cal Dive are on my list of employers to work for - one of the air divers who was on the sat course recommended them. Ta much atchafalaya.

Think it just needs to be more perseverance and more door knocking - plenty of companies in Aberdeen, but getting past the damn receptionist is the hardest part!
posted by Nugget at 1:21 AM on February 15, 2007

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