The experience problem is one that many new graduates and those reentering the workforce both face. Not only do employers want experience, they want recent experience. No one is more desired than one who is already trained and already working. When you are looking for a job from a position of unemployment, then you have to make yourself seem even more desirable than the other candidates.
But how do you get experience when no one will give you a job so you can get experience? One way of doing this is to volunteer. No, you will not get paid but many volunteer opportunities lead to jobs and they can certainly lead to contacts. More importantly, they are something to put on your resume under ‘experience’ and that is a category that needs to be completed.
No matter how much education you have, no matter how impressive your degrees or your university, experience trumps all of that. When including volunteer work you don’t have to specify that it was volunteer unless asked. It’s quite easy to calculate how much your position as a volunteer was worth by exploring one of the online salary calculators.
Another way to get experience is as an unpaid intern. Few companies are going to turn away someone who is qualified and wants to work for free even if it is only part time. The bonus in this is that not only will you gain experience and networking contacts, you could also land a job. If a position in your area opens up the company is going to be more inclined to hire someone who already knows the job and how the company itself operates.
There are ways around the lack of experience issue. It just requires a little creativity and ingenuity.
Your standard dream job description may require an average of three to five years of experience when you only have two years of experience. Do you just walk away and do not apply? No, apply anyways. You may be surprised and get at least a phone interview. Pay close attention to the keywords of the job description and ensure that you put them in your resume also.
Do not inflate your experience in this field or call attention to your lack of three to five years of experience in a cover letter. There are other things a recruiter looks for aside from number of years of experience. Maybe the job calls for someone who can work tirelessly towards a specific goal for long-term rather than short-term gratification. Or perhaps your background in customer service will be a great add-on to the skill sets required in the position. Personal characteristics, related skill sets and ability to work hours that are different from just the 9 to 5 grind may also make you an attractive candidate. If the recruiter describes the type of person that would fit best into this position, listen carefully, then provide information on why you are that person.
Training also counts towards making you the ideal job candidate when you do not have the requisite number of years of work experience. While some managers like to train their new employees from the ground up, realistically, it can be cost prohibitive and time consuming to do so. Arriving with some relevant training can also make starting a new job easier.
A flexible, can-do attitude also counts in your favor. If you can be flexible with start dates, hours, where you work, what equipment you do your work on, all of these things can add up to make you the best candidate for the job, even when you do not have the preferred amount of experience.