Fake it til you make it. You've heard it. You've tried it. You know it can work. You know it can also go horribly wrong.
But sometimes the stars align, fortune smiles, and your faking it takes you all the way to making it. You couldn't have done it any better if you planned, but still there's that little voice inside that says "what if someone catches me?"
Here's hoping you make it out.
Here are some of those answers.
I George Costanza'd my way into a job in high school.
I was looking for a new job and went to apply at a local movie theater. The general manager asked to interview me on the spot, which I wasn't at all prepared for, but went with it anyway. This was like a Wednesday or Thursday night. The interview went well, and she told me she was going to be out of town this weekend, but she would let me know on Monday.
I didn't want to wait, so the next day at school I got my work permit filled out and took it back. I dropped it off to another manager and told them she told me to bring this crap in. They asked if I could start the next day.
I ended up working there for over three years
Building A Storehouse
I'm an artist who works in the film industry. Some years ago my wife got pregnant (purposefully) and I had to try to find a way to make more reliable income while she was on maternity leave and for the foreseeable future, as we knew we weren't only having one. I also wanted to stay in film.
I got work as a Grip. Grunt work lugging things around set and building/setting up large bits of lighting gear. No clue what I was doing. I started off on big shows like the flash and arrow.
A friend got me work on a small set and only 13 days in to working as a grip, which I didn't tell them, they made me the Key grip. Key is film talk for Manager. I was in charge of a whole department which is one half of the lighting team. Faked it until I made it!
Fast forward over 5 years. I have over 30 credits to my name as a key grip. I own an entire 5 ton trucks worth of gear that I rent out, which makes as much money per show as my wage did. My wife is back at work after having 2 kids and I'm a stay at home dad with consistent passive income and the time to continue to write and audition whenever I need.
Totally Guessing The Whole Decade
I'd always been interested in programming. As a kid I tried to teach myself C and Java with mild success. Fast forward to the time I'm 24. I'm working as a piercing apprentice at a tattoo shop making $20/day a few days per week. I meet a girl, fall for said girl, girl ends up pregnant...
A few hours after the pregnancy test I'm applying for jobs on Craigslist and I find a PHP job a few minutes up the road. I've worked with PHP for maybe a few hours in my entire life time but it was a tiny company and the interview wasn't technical. I lied through my teeth the entire time and get hired.
After being hired I tried to start learning PHP on the job. The owner of the company created his own PHP framework which was GOD AWFUL so I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. I got fired two weeks later.
In those two weeks on the job I made an honest effort to learn more about web design and development so I offered my "design" services to a local web design company for free so that I could learn. Walking home after being fired I called up the web design company and they ended up hiring me. I would learn on the job for a year or so and then take my skills to get more money somewhere else.
10 years later I'm the lead software engineer on a big project making just over 6 figures. If a pregnancy test hadn't scared me to death that day I would still be working dead end jobs to scrape up enough money for weed and booze.
Google As A Crutch
My entire professional career. I "played with computers" growing up in so-far-as I knew how to turn one on, download a game, and play them very well. I knew next to nothing about building them, or troubleshooting them, usually depending on my friends to help when my second hand PC threw a fit.
Cut to me, fresh out of college with a waste of paper degree looking for a job. I get hired by an IT contractor, cause I knew a gal that knew a guy, with the understanding I needed to know the basics... I didn't know anything. I made it up as I went along, googling everything.
That was 10 years ago. I'm now a Systems Administrator.
Got The Job She Wanted
Not me, but my cousin applied for a brand new restaurant job and didn't get it. Her friend got the job and she was pissed she didn't get hired. So her friend told her where/when orientation was, and she decided to "fake" getting hired til she "made it". She went to orientation, all the training, introduced herself to all the staff, management, and made her presence known. After a couple of weeks working, everyone got their paychecks, except her...
She went up to management, and was like "wth, everyone got paid but me...you've seen me working for the last two weeks!"
Management goes into the computer system and checks "that's so weird you're not in the system...I'm so sorry... must be a clerical error...we will get you in the system, and paid right away!"
And that's how my cousin fake got hired til she made it. I wanna be like her when I grow up.
Faked My Way Into Six Figures
I started at a big ol' multinational in retail as a college dropout. I started at the lowest rung of customer service in a store.
Now retail has lots and lots of staff turnover. And a multinational has a lot of rules, or you'd expect them to have. Also, I'm not the dumbest around (never mind the college dropout that's another story) and well to be fair not everyone in retail is super smart.
So there was a consistent lack of management (or they didn't care) and all the rules and regulations had gaps in them. So people start asking questions: How do I solve this? What should I do next? Etc.
Nobody had an answer to this questions, so I started answering them using common sense or what I'd think should work. Just filling the gaps which probably made me look a lot smarter than I am. Just faking that I knew what I was doing.
So I started climbing the ladders and I am now the Senior Finance and Operations Director for a store with a gross turnover of over 160 million euro.
HOWEVER, cracks are starting to show. The company got a lot more serious and I'm surrounded by smart people with high degrees where I can't bluff my way through problems and meetings as easily. So, I'm thinking of taking a step back and relaxing a bit more on lower position. I was a lot happier then and had way less stress and way less hours.
During college, I worked part-time as a deli clerk in a grocery store.
I had zero experience with deli items - didn't know head cheese from salami, or provolone from muenster.
So, I'd explain to customers that I was new and ask them to point to items in the case that they wanted and what the sign indicated for the price per pound.
They always seemed happy to help out - especially when I gave them "free samples" from the slicing machine.
I was desperate for a job several years back so I wrote up this resume that was utter bull on a whim granted some of it was legit but a good 80% was me bullshitting. Amazingly enough I got a call for an interview and by some miracle they ended up hiring me and I worked for the place for 7 years before something I was actually qualified for opened up at another work place. That bull resume saved me from ruin though so I always will look back in that crazy situation fondly.
Turning The System Around
I had this file thing in elementary school where you have to put all your worksheets in a folder and my teacher will check it at the end of the year. Well.....I did not do it and convinced her that I handed in but she lost it. She said she will get back to me...and Im still waiting.
The Backspace Served You Well, Grasshopper
My coworker has a degree in mechanical engineering in another country but was lucky to get a job in the US helping to fix the Y2K bug. He was told to search for year codes in software and edit it a certain way. He was so out of his league that when he made a mistake that he couldn't just backspace to fix he would "accidentally" ... turn off the computer to restart it... just because he didn't know how to undo edits. He's now our lead Java Developer.