— June 20, 2019
As you’re perusing entry-level jobs to apply for, you’ve probably come across a common conundrum: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It’s a catch-22, and it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to land your first job. But do not dismay; there are ways that you can overcome this hurdle and get your foot in the door.
Talk to people. Let them know you’re looking for a job and the type of skills you have to offer. See if anyone knows of job openings with their company and could put in a good word for you. Employers often look favorably on referrals from current employees.
Also, do your research and find out what companies you’re interested in are looking for. Talk to people in roles similar to what you’re seeking. What type of skills and experience do they want you to have? Are there classes you can take or places to volunteer that will let you gain some foundational knowledge and experience?
- Prove Yourself
Be bold and show a potential employer that you have what it takes to get the job done and you’re willing to learn. Offer to put together a sample project, write an article or blog, or volunteer with the company for a few hours or days to demonstrate your value. Actions speak louder than words, so if you have the opportunity to show what you can do, take advantage of it.
- Leverage Schoolwork
If you’re lacking real-world experience, emphasize major projects or presentations you worked on in school. Did you have to put together a business proposal or plan? Were you asked to develop a marketing strategy? Were you a team leader? Highlight the skills gained and lessons learned through these opportunities.
- Be Willing to Compromise
You might not have the skills or experience yet to land your dream job, but is there something similar where you can work your way up? Maybe you’ll have to start out as an assistant first, but there are opportunities to grow and advance in your career. Look for multiple paths to get to where you want to be. Keep an open mind; just because something didn’t work out as you planned doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial.
- Take Risks
Not quite qualified? Don’t check every box? Apply anyway. If you believe that you have the knowledge and skills to be successful and you can be a positive asset to the company, throw your hat in the ring. A lot of employers are willing to overlook preferred experience if they see potential in a candidate. You may not be an exact match, but you might have something else that sets you apart and makes you a good fit.
Experience is not the be all end all of landing a job. If you can position yourself in a positive light, highlight what you bring to the table, and show that you have potential, it can open doors. Leverage all of the resources you have.