Work Experience, Internship, Job, Millennials in the Workplace, Networking, Qualifications, Personal Branding, Resumes
CAREER / 14 December 2016
Working Around a Lack of Work Experience
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Hannah Son
Content Writer
Redondo Beach

The persistent paradox of needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to gain experience is a struggle pretty much every millennial I know has confronted (and been stumped by) at some point. However, there are a few ways to work around this dilemma, amplify employer interest, and increase your employment prospects. So how can you promote yourself to an employer when you have little to no experience? 

1. Passion— Genuine interest in the field of work you’re looking into (or an area of work similar to it) is never a bad thing. Not only does it fuel your determination to get the job, but it motivates you to do well at it if given the opportunity. Employers can sense that fervor in cover letters, interviews, etc. If an employer knows how much you care and has the flexibility to teach you all the ropes then they just might take the chance on you. So, find your passion and rock that interview!

2. Perseverance— Don’t let rejection dampen your spirit, unfortunately, it’s all part of the job hunt. Apply to numerous and varying openings even if your luck hasn’t turned. Simple as this: the more shots you take, the more you’ll likely make— the percentage rate might not be the greatest, but something is better than nothing so just keep trying. Also, don’t close yourself off to so few and so specific options because not only does it heighten the risk of not hearing back from employers, but it limits your opportunities. Who knows what’s out there and what you can find if you just keep searching? 

3. KSA’s— (Knowledge, Skills, and Ability) This one is big. This one is what can really hook an employer and have them see the potential in you. Beyond seeing your drive, having KSA’s can validate an employer’s choice in hiring you despite lack of experience so build what you know, what you can do, and what you offer. Utilize all of your job preparation knowledge (masterful resumes, strong cover letters, etc.) to convey the rest of your expertise. If you have a strong foundation and have the resources to contribute, your qualifications rise. Learning is so important and it can make a huge impact in your opportunities so gain knowledge, develop skills, and garner abilities. Take classes, try ProSky (this isn’t even a shameless self- promo plug— I’m a guest blogger and think ProSky is a wonderful resume building tool), and explore an assortment of other opportunities to learn. 

The last 3 suggestions were ways to develop yourself as a strong candidate and stand out without experience. However, the next three tips are alternative modes of experience. These different, non- traditional ways of acquiring practical knowledge that may be accessed and attained at a more immediate rate and contribute to a growing resume. 

1. Volunteer work— There is an abundance of volunteer and service work out there that can be considered work experience so get involved! Serving as a volunteer implies little to no prerequisites at entry, but grants so much practical knowledge. There is an assortment of work that does require and advance tangible skills so don’t discredit this option. Think coding camp trainers, literacy mentors, and campaign organizers— these are important roles that require certain aptitudes. These can also lead to other positions within the same organization (and help your prospects of employment elsewhere) so do volunteer work, it is real-life, first-hand involvement. 

2. Small businesses, non-profits, and start-ups— This is slightly like the “perseverance” suggestion earlier, but really, aiming small is not negative in this scenario at all. There are so many brilliant small businesses, emerging start-ups, and humble non- profit organizations that continually seek out talent and they tend to be a little less stringent about formal work experience. There are so many opportunities at every scale and with these types of groups, there may be more leeway for them to work with you if they see potential. Competition vying for the same role will probably be lower too. This is a really beneficial option and huge door- opener because you can partake in the same hustle a larger company, enhance your KSA’s, and gain valuable (and recognized) work experience likely with a less bureaucratic hiring process. 

3. Your own brand and “work experience”— If you can’t find success, experience, or the opportunity you’re searching for you, create it and develop your own brand, business, organization, and experience. Be your own catalyst. This may become a motivational speech or just an enumeration of enthusiastic lines about self- determination so just reflect on all of the people who took their own paths, made their own success and, in some instances, made the world a better place. We live in a time when 6- second videos have revealed talented stars and being a Youtuber is a legitimate and lucrative career possibility, so just go for it! Whether it’s part-time or full-time, just make it great (whatever “it” may be). This could be a huge feat on its own and produce a multitude of positive results, including bolstering your eligibility and impressiveness to employers. 

First, you need to work on yourself to compensate for the lack of experience with equivalent human capital. Then, you need to work somewhere and somehow to fortify yourself. Implement the first 3- part method of improvement followed by the 3 alternative experience opportunities and your chances of getting hired will likely increase. If you want to read more, here are 4 more ways to get over your lack of ’relevant’ work experience!

Let ProSky and me know how this works out for you! Good luck and go for greatness!

About J. J. (@CollegeLifeG4G) is currently a junior/ third year at the University of California Berkeley. She currently lives in Berkeley, but Southern California will always be home to her. As a millennial in early adulthood and advocate for education (equity and attainment), she writes about different facets of life to help other college students maneuver through their own experience.

Check out her site here!