As important as it is for students to gain work experience in their field of study while they’re still in school, employers will ask for certain requirements to be met regarding background knowledge, professional history, and education. Consequently, this can discourage and destroy the confidence of many students to even continue searching for a job that pertains to their passions and studies. It is challenging to gain the needed experience when employers won’t give you a chance.
Therefore, we thought of a few tips that can help you combat your lack of experience when applying for jobs.
Tip #1: Be Realistic
While it’s good to be eager about beginning your future, being too eager can blind you from reality. A job may sound like a dream, but if you can’t prove that you can excel in that position, then you shouldn’t waste your time applying. Make sure you spend some time thinking of reasons as to why you believe you can do the job. These reasons don’t have to be because you have formal experience. They can consist of personal traits or less formal qualifications, as well. Most importantly, don’t worry about being the perfect candidate.
As long as you meet most of the qualifications within the job description, take your chance and apply for the position. If, however, one of the qualifications states that you need 10+ years of experience, it’s probably best you don’t apply, no matter how many other qualifications you meet. Just remember that people get hired all the time without being a line-for-line match, so it’s okay if you do, too!
Tip #2: Sell Yourself
Having the ability to sell yourself to any employer is crucial, especially when you don’t have much experience for the job. According to Allison Green of the U.S. News, one way that you can sell yourself is to write a cover letter that goes beyond restating what’s on your resume. She says that your cover letter should explain why you think you can excel in the position and why you’re excited about the opportunity. Avoid using the same cover letter for every job you apply for.
Instead, customize each one for a more genuine appeal. Another way you can sell yourself is by highlighting your non-obvious experiences. Because you may not have the years of work experience in your field of study, it is important to discuss what you have done in the past and how they demonstrate the skills an employer is looking for. For example, if you’ve worked at a restaurant, you can say you learned customer service skills, or how to effectively work in a fast-paced environment. If you were a babysitter or nanny, you could mention how you developed patience, leadership, and quick-thinking when faced with an unexpected situation.
Keep in mind that when you are selling yourself, you should always use the right balance of humility and confidence. Be confident in your abilities and what you can offer, but also understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Tip #3: Use Your Soft Skills
You cannot change your amount of experience overnight, but you can pay more attention to the soft skills you display to an employer. Soft skills are personal attributes that allow you to interact with others in harmony and can help outweigh your lack of experience. For example, smiling to your employers to show your friendly side, responding quickly to emails to show how responsive you are, and nodding during interviews to show that you are an attentive listener are all areas that can automatically leave a lasting impression.
If you are looking for more ways to apply soft skills or to see which skills employers are looking for, click here to read more.
Tip #4: Search for Alternative Ways to Gain Experience
Although it would be nice as a student to find a full-time job that meets your needs and passions, it’s okay to find other ways to add experience to your resume. Consider finding volunteer work within your field of study, or job shadowing a career of your interest. These are great ways to learn more about your interests, likes and dislikes.
Another idea is to complete your own training or projects. There are plenty of videos online that can teach you how to use specific software, explain certain terms, or give you information about what a career entails. All of these ideas can help you mitigate some of your experience deficits and make you a stronger candidate.