We've all been there: You're in the middle of applying for a job, and the dreaded "years of experience" question pops up. It demands a minimum number that you don't meet – but you know you have the skills to do the job!
What exactly is a career newcomer to do when previous experience is such an emphasized element of the job-hunting process? This metric is even more daunting if you're fresh out of college or have never previously held a job or internship related to your target field.
Should students or those looking for a change of pace be punished for lack of experience?
Of course not!
Instead of suffering constant rejection or feeling stuck in a rut, consider some of the creative ways you can create your own experience and put yourself on the path to a better career:
1. Start a Blog
Blogs are great for job seekers and career changers. For starters, they allow you to showcase your wide variety of talents while simultaneously making some money. Blogs are the perfect starting point for beefing up your virtual resume, as they can serve as portfolios of the talents you haven't yet had the chance to showcase in the workplace.
For example, consider how a different professionals in varying careers can benefit from blogging:
- Freelance content and copywriters can showcase their skills and examples of their previously published work in specific niches.
- Engineers and programmers can to show off their independent projects and/or classwork.
- Marketers can display their killer ads and sample copy to prove they have the chops to brand a business.
Furthermore, as long as your blog ticks the boxes in terms of SEO, you can use it as way to generate leads and draw recruiters to you, versus having to scramble for work. If you're currently employed and considering a stealthy job hunt, you want to keep your blog under the radar when it comes to your coworkers; however, if you're currently unemployed, you should market your blog like crazy.
2. Emphasize Your Strengths
Hiring managers are quick to decide whether or not a candidate is worth their time. Some studies say it only takes a matter of minutes; others, a matter of seconds.
Regardless of the exact time frame, you need to do everything within your power to emphasize your strengths during the application and interview process if you are to break down any potential psychological barriers between yourself and your next boss.
For example, focus on the following as you apply for jobs and attend interviews:
- Show off your writing skills by making your cover letters irresistible.
- Personalize each and every application and pitch in an effort to stand out from the sea of applicants.
- Take pride in your appearance and ooze confidence. You may be surprised at how much of a role your personality plays in getting hired!
3. Craft a Skills-Based Resume
Instead of a dull resume that focuses on job tenure, craft a skills-based resume that emphasizes specific projects and tasks you've completed professionally.
Many managers use years of experience as a means of weeding out unqualified candidates. A skills-based resume will show off your specific accomplishments and prove to hiring managers that even if you have fewer years under your belt than other candidates do, you have just as much skill – if not more.
For a skills-based resume to succeed, it should cite specific statistics, describe particular projects, and outline the actual growth of the projects you've completed. Don't simply state where you worked and how long you worked there.
4. Build Strong Relationships and Get References
Sometimes, you need others to sing your praises if you want to convince hiring managers that you're worthwhile. But don't just ask anyone to be a reference; instead, solicit references from people whom you trust – people like former professors, colleagues, or managers.
Don't let years of experience represent a barrier between yourself and a fresh start. Instead, take a proactive approach to showing off your expertise to make yourself irresistible to recruiters and hiring managers.
Carmelo Hannity is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.