At YouTern, we hear this all the time:
“I can’t get a job… I don’t have experience.”
This convenient cliché apparently applies to students, recent graduates and those in career transition. And, like most clichés, it exists for a reason… generally it’s true – at least in the moment said.
However, if you’re still saying that three months from now…
Well… there’s no excuse.
There are many relatively painless ways to remove the “no experience” void in your resume. On the 1 to 5 scale, let’s take a look at the best options available:
Internships are the single best method of getting past the “no experience” gatekeeper.
In an internship, you gain:
- Industry-relevant experience over a short period of time
- The chance to show a prospective employer your potential
- The opportunity to network – online and offline – with influential individuals in your chosen field
There are literally thousands of internships available across the country, right now – it’s highly likely an internship exists in your field, and near you. And, over half the postings on YouTern are tagged as “virtual” – meaning you can work around your existing schedule, from anywhere.
Think internships are only for college-aged applicants? Think again! You’re never too old for an internship – and many in career transition, regardless of age or experience, are turning to internships to fill gaps in experience.
To find a dynamic internship go to YouTern, or see your career center professional.
2. Volunteer (4 out of 5, maybe more)
“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
I was recently on a panel discussion with Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success. When we were asked a sure-fire way to get the attention of influential people, the immediate answer from this amazing, dynamic leader was: “Volunteer!”
She went on to give specific examples where the passion, work ethic and character of a potential employee was clearly on display during volunteer activities – and that she would go out of her way to recommend someone who volunteered right along with her.
This is true in many arenas: start-ups, non-profits, charities, church and civic activities and more.
Volunteering makes your best character traits come alive – mostly because you feel good about yourself while helping others. Many times, this happens in front of influential people who can make a difference in your career, providing you with connections and recommendations.
Get out there, show your passion, hustle… and someone will notice.
To immediately dive into volunteerism, take a look at Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, or a change-oriented non-profit in your area.
3. Entrepreneurship (3.5 out of 5)
Essentially, there isn’t much difference between searching for a job and searching for customers – both, in their own way, pay the bills. Many businesses – especially small businesses and start-ups – would much rather pay “You, Inc.” for 10 hours a week for your specialty than hire a new employee.
Perhaps you have a knack for social media, public relations, event planning, marketing, graphic design, or spreadsheets. These are valuable – and marketable – skills.
Think you can’t afford to start your own business? Wrong. Look what you can do for about $100.00:
- Domain Name and Web Hosting, 1 year: $84 (BlueHost)
- Business Cards: $19 for 250 (Smartlevels.com)
- WordPress: Free
- Advertising through TweetDeck, LinkedIn and Facebook: Free
- Google Docs: Free
- Elbow-grease and confidence: Free
Hint: To get an idea of the resources available to those with blossoming entrepreneurial spirit, we strongly encourage you to join two Twitter chats: #entrep Sundays at 7PM Pacific and #smallbizchat Wednesdays at 5:00 Pacific.
Also, check out a great example of someone that has taken this exact approach to work, and life: OfficialTherefromHere.com.
4. Passion, Ambition and Guts (depends on you… at least a 3.5 out of 5)
A recruiter’s definition of passion: “Are you excited to come to work at the company I’m representing?”
Fast forward to when you’re running your own department, or business…
Who would you rather work with, and trust with the future of your company: A) the stale, over-confident loner with ten years of experience? Or B) the person who walks in displaying confidence, a passion for the work and the team, and who obviously has a clear path to success?
I choose “B”. Every single time.
Not sure how to make that kind of impression during the interview? Walk in with a strong handshake, good eye contact, and an unsolicited, unexpected “plan”.
Hint: Bring in a well-thought out marketing strategy, a social media plan to extend brand awareness, or a thorough analysis of the competition. Then, lean forward in your chair, and walk the recruiter through your ideas with unbridled passion and this phrase: “I’ve taken the liberty to…”
By the time you’re done, you’ll be shaking with adrenaline. And so will the person you just talked to about your job.
For more discussion on the topic of “Passion, Ambition and Guts,” see our blog: Internship Seeker: Heal Thyself.
How many of these practical tips apply to your job search?
Since none of them are mutually exclusive – your answer may be “all of the above”.
You can certainly engage in a 10 to 20 hour per-week internship while volunteering Saturdays or Sundays. It is more than possible to build a blog or website and get business cards in a few man-hours. And by spending just a couple hours a day, you can spread your entrepreneurial message through Twitter and Facebook.
Now, incorporate passion, ambition and guts into this new-found job search process…
Three months from now, you won’t need an excuse for lack of experience.