Job Seek­ers: What To Do If You Don’t Have The Nec­es­sary Job Ex­pe­ri­ence


“How do I ap­ply for a job even though I don’t have all of the right ex­pe­ri­ence?” I hear this ques­tion fre­quently from job seek­ers of all back­grounds and with vary­ing lev­els of ex­pe­ri­ence.

Whether I’m work­ing with a just-grad­u­ated col­lege stu­dent, some­one who wants a pro­mo­tion or to change ca­reers en­tirely, or a stay-at-home mom or dad who is re­turn­ing to work af­ter tak­ing years off to raise kids, there are three sim­ple so­lu­tions to this prob­lem.

Re­ally Un­der­stand The Skills And Ex­pe­ri­ence You Need

Peo­ple can be par­a­lyzed by un­cer­tainty when they’re ap­ply­ing for a job and aren’t sure if they have the right ex­pe­ri­ence, but the first step to suc­cess is a sim­ple one: Know ex­actly what skills and ex­pe­ri­ence you need to get the job you want. In do­ing this, peo­ple of­ten find they have skills men­tioned in the job de­scrip­tion that they’ve for­got­ten to in­clude in their re­sume or cover let­ter.

There are sev­eral sim­ple ways to find this in­for­ma­tion. Print job de­scrip­tions for the po­si­tion you want and com­pare your back­ground to the re­quired ex­pe­ri­ence. Search for peo­ple on LinkedIn work­ing in re­lated jobs and study their ca­reer paths. Bet­ter yet, reach out to one of th­ese peo­ple for an in­for­ma­tional in­ter­view to get an in­sider’s per­spec­tive on what it takes to be suc­cess­ful in his or her pro­fes­sion.

Ask Your­self How You Can Ac­quire The Right Ex­pe­ri­ence

Af­ter com­plet­ing the first step, you might find there are key skills or ex­pe­ri­ence you’re miss­ing for the job you want. The next step is to de­velop a plan of ac­tion to ac­quire those skills. This plan could in­clude tak­ing a class, do­ing an in­tern­ship, join­ing a pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion like Toast­mas­ters or even just read­ing a few books. As a hir­ing man­ager, I never ex­pect ap­pli­cants to be a 100% fit for a job and al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate those who come pre­pared to dis­cuss their op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth within the po­si­tion.

Look At Your En­tire Back­ground—You Have More Ex­pe­ri­ence Than You Think

Re­lated ex­pe­ri­ence doesn’t al­ways have to come from past jobs. Vol­un­teer­ing, serv­ing on a com­mit­tee, job-shad­ow­ing, man­ag­ing your fam­ily’s bud­get, im­prov­ing time man­age­ment by jug­gling chil­dren’s soc­cer prac­tices and dance lessons— th­ese are all trans­ferrable skills for your ca­reer.

To help com­mu­ni­cate this ex­pe­ri­ence to a po­ten­tial em­ployer, add a “Skills Sum­mary” sec­tion to the top of your re­sume and men­tion them in your cover let­ter.

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