How To Get A Job When Lacking Work Experience


Can you get a job when you don’t have any previous work experience in that particular industry? Graduates are often terrified by their first job hunt, thinking they have nothing going for them but a few skills and little or no experience. What if you are in the midst of your career, but want to give it a change with some other profession you haven’t worked in? Are you totally out of luck if your background doesn’t quite qualify you for the new job you’ve targeted?

Never fear, there are ways to compensate for not having previous work experience in your chosen field. Just think outside that proverbial limiting box and you’ll see ways of making yourself more marketable for those out-of-reach jobs — ways you couldn’t see before. Here are just few:

Know and value your strengths. When searching for a job, go through the job description carefully and with great attention to evaluate the true qualifications and skills you have. If you don’t have some of their required skills, you may have other unique abilities that make you even more qualified. Know these strengths and stress them in your job application materials. The recruiters will certainly notice and maybe even decide to give you a chance to get the job you want.

It’s true that some job ads have long descriptions, with many qualifications the candidates are required to meet when applying for their advertised positions, but in reality, the hiring managers do not always expect to find candidates who meet all of those requirements. Their job description may describe their ‘ideal scenario’. Apply for the job even if your experience doesn’t exactly match these requirements, but make sure to highlight in your resume and cover letter how you make up for those shortcomings.

Present your soft skills. Emotional quotient (EQ) is a measure of people’s emotional intelligence (EI), or their ability to interpret, understand, and act upon their emotions and those of other people who surround them. These traits are much harder to measure and quantify than the specific technical abilities of a candidate. Most requirements in job postings are related to applicants’ soft skills and EQ traits, such as collaboration, empathy, working under pressure, dealing with stressful environment, problem solving skills, etc. A strong resume must include measurable indications of the candidate’s emotional intelligence and soft skills, how successful he/she is when working in teams, what are his/her leadership results, as well as his/her ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Why are these soft skills important for your job search? Many studies show people prefer to work with someone they like — even if this person doesn’t have all of the necessary skills for the job — than with someone who has all the required technical background but has a character that’s difficult to handle. The hiring managers aware of this fact look for candidates for their open positions who will also ‘fit’ this criterion, and likability often relies on the person being emotionally intelligent. What’s even better, you can improve your EQ no matter how old you are, unlike your intelligence quotient (IQ), which is considered to reach its peak around the age of 21. Think of ways you can make yourself more likeable, hence more hireable on the job market. Showcase these traits in your job application, including everything that proves your high EQ.

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    • Bob Prosen

      The traditional way of getting hired doesn’t work. So stop sending your resume to any and everyone. Everything you do has to be customized to the company and the hiring manager. If not, you won’t stand out or get that all-important interview.

      Companies hire people to solve problems (both positive and negative). Your ability to uncover your target employers problems and position yourself as the solution is what will get you hired.

      Here are a just a few potential problem areas. Completing projects on time and on budget, improve product quality, improve customer service, increase sales, reduce costs, improve online marketing, expand into new markets, etc.

      Once you know the problems it’s time to build a personal marketing campaign to position yourself as the solution to one or more of their challenges.

      Start by inventorying your skills and all of your experience. Include previous work experience, part time or unpaid work, leadership positions within organizations, etc. Use all of your experience and you’ll be surprised how much you have to offer.

      This is the same process I’m currently teaching three Ohio State seniors along with several professionals to get a great job. And the good news is, that it works.

      There’s no reason to be unemployed!

      Bob Prosen
      The Prosen Center
      for Business Advancement