This is a guest post written by Juliana Weiss-Roessler. She is currently a contributor to CareerIgniter.com.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. At times, finding work can be a real catch 22. In order to find a job, you need work experience. But in order to have work experience, you need a job. The whole process can be a tail-chasing headache.
Many times your resume will be the first contact between you and a prospective employer. If you happen to be applying for a position and have little to no experience, selling yourself on paper can be a difficult process.
Sure, you can list your mother’s best friend as a reference or include the phone number of the church group you volunteer with every other Tuesday, but there is no guarantee that your prospective employer will even read that far into your resume. You need to hook them early.
The real question behind all of this is what exactly should you write for work experience on a resume or job application when you don’t have any jobs? In other words—how do you convince an employer that you are the right person for the position when your resume is shooting blanks?
The first step is to be truthful. Yes, it would be far easier if you could tell little white lies like you do on your Facebook posts (i.e. checking into the gym, then going to Starbucks instead), but sacrificing your integrity is not worth the risk. If an employer were to find out that you lied on your resume, not only will you probably be fired, but that lie could also follow you and impact your future job searches.
Instead, focus on the experience that you do have and reinterpret it to be more specific to the job or industry that you are applying for. Lots of people applying for roles on SpringTern are new to the workforce but they still have to find ways to convince people that they are right for the position. The key is to sell yourself in whatever way you can.
If you have done a lot of volunteer work, include it. But instead of simply listing your job responsibilities, reword them and list them as skills. If you have experience dealing with people in clubs and organizations, list that as customer service skills. If you’re required to stand on your feet for extended periods of time, write that as the ability to focus on a job task. If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, then you have household management skills. If you are a recent college grad and took courses that are relevant to the specific industry you are applying for, then go ahead and focus on that experience by creating a section titled “Relevant College Course Work” or something similar.
Remember, while you absolutely do not need to lie or exaggerate, you do need to make your skillset look as impressive as possible. Everyone else will be doing it on their resumes so you need to ensure that you keep up.
Tackling the Resume
If you lack relevant work experience, one of the best ways to make your resume look as impressive as possible is to add an Objective that details your strengths and talks about your goals within the industry. For example, you could write something along the lines of “Recent college graduate with people skills and leadership ability, seeking an entry level customer service position with a company that will allow me to grow and obtain relevant work experience.”
This tells them that you’ve at least put some thought into your future and what you’d like to focus on. It can also encourage prospective employers to read your resume from a certain perspective, imbuing extra meaning on the types of experiences you choose to include.
The main idea here is that when you need to make up for the lack of work experience, you should highlight other areas of your resume. Instead of a section titled “Work Experience,” simply call it “Experience.” And think of other sections you can add such as “Skills” and “Training.”
Above all, make sure your resume is professionally formatting and contains all the information a prospective employer expects. If you’re finding that your resume looks sloppy or you’re ensure what to include, a resume builder can help by providing guidance on subheadings and multiple templates to choose from.
Experience Is in the Eye of the Beholder
If you’re still worried that you just don’t have enough experience, go out and get some. One of the great things about a site like SpringTern is that it’s not only designed to help people with little work experience get specific projects, you can then use that on your resume when seeking more work in the future.
Many times, hunting for a job can make you feel like a salesman but don’t let that get you down. The great thing about it is that you are selling yourself and no one knows you better. Get creative when looking for ways to highlight your skillset and remember that valuable experience can come from all sorts of places. Happy job hunting!