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Overcoming 'Lack of Experience'

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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You know you can do the job. You are itching to get an interview. You'd love to send a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) to the prospective employer. But there is a looming concern… you have no experience.

Believe it or not, people just like you have gotten employment even when their experience appears to be lacking at first glance. Here are some ways that others have creatively turned a negative into a positive for themselves and how you can do the same.

"Dig Up" Some Experience

First, ask yourself if you truly don't have the experience. It could be that you actually have some transferable skills that will speak volumes to prospective employers.

For instance, if the job you're applying for is in sales, consider recent times when you have "sold", such as:

  • Fundraising for a volunteer organisation - If you've ever picked up the phone and asked for a donation, you've handled a "sales call". Similarly, if you joined a nonprofit at university and helped them grow their coffers using a variety of creative fundraising techniques, you have been involved in what essentially boils down to selling. Thus, you might want to list your volunteer activities before your work history on your CV as a way of highlighting your credentials for the position.

  • Encouraging others to help out - Have you ever been in the position of organising a team (in or out of the office)? Believe it or not, this is a "sales" effort, as you have to "sell" the importance of being an active part of the group to people who might not have previously considered joining or assisting. Again, this should be highlighted in your CV under the category of "Summary of Qualifications" as an example of your suitability for the position.
If you're having trouble coming up with appropriate experiences, ask a friend or trusted colleague to help you out. By brainstorming together, you're likely to unearth some excellent illustrations to include in your CV.

Sign Up for Some Classes

If you don't have the direct experience but are eager to try for the position, check out local and Internet-based trainings covering the field you'd like to enter. That way, you can "pad" the "Education" or "Volunteer" section of your CV. (And make sure you put that section toward the top of your CV so the reader sees it first.)

As an example, if you'd like to become a professional public speaker, join an association (such as Toastmasters) that focuses on the art of addressing groups. Additionally, you can take classes at a local university or through a trade organisation on handling PowerPoint presentations or event planning. This way, you'll be showing a prospective employer that you're a go-getter who is serious about jumping into a new profession.

You may also want to consider waiting a bit until you can obtain a certification or some other credential that will assist you in obtaining employment. Though putting off your dream for a time can be tough, it's better than handing in a CV which doesn't match the position for which you're applying.

Reconsider Your Expectations… But Don't Lose Your Focus

Of course, you have to be realistic. If you honestly have no relevant experiences, you may have to accept a different position in a similar field or wait until you have more expertise to move.

For instance, if you're just out of school, you probably won't land a managerial position; however, if you take on a job with a progressive company and show your bosses that you are determined and responsible, you may be given plenty of opportunities to get some supervisory experience under your belt. Then, when internal or external job opportunities arise, you'll have the credentials in black and white on your CV.

Above all else, it's important to remember that no one is born with job experience. Over time, we all develop career skills; therefore, never allow a lack of knowledge to stop you from travelling on your desired occupation path. It might take some creative CV "tweaking" on your part, but if you can show a prospective employer you have the basic skill needed to perform at a superior level, you just may find yourself in a new job.

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