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.