Oh, the good old Catch-22: to get the job you must have experience, but to get the experience, you need to get the job.
And unless you’re a software developer and technical guru, chances are you don’t have employers exactly lining up to hire you. But don’t worry – you may not have years of experience, but there are still ways you can boost your resume and get your next big break.
Just follow these seven simple rules and you’ll be sitting in the boardroom in no time.
1. Knowledge is Power
Learn everything you can about your industry. Read articles and keep up to date on news and trends in your line of work. Learning does not stop when you finish school, and being current in your industry knowledge might give you a leg up on your competitors. Presenting your prospective employer with a plan for how you would tackle their biggest challenges or help them reach their goals may be just as effective as having related work experience.
2. Showcase Your Related Skills from Unrelated (and Related) Jobs
No, that job you had as the manager of a pizza place may not be the most relevant experience on your resume; however, your leadership and customer service skills are. Think about the roles you have had and tailor your descriptions to highlight your key skills.
Bonus: You may also want to list any career-relevant awards or competitions that you won at work or in school.
3. Work Your Way Up
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a career. Some of the top leaders of the business world began working as someone’s assistant or a server in a restaurant. Starting out small and climbing the ladder is often the way to go. Working in the mailroom of your dream company may not be your most ideal position, but it puts your foot in the door and allows room for growth. You may also have to start out in a contract or part-time role before obtaining something more permanent. Instead of being frustrated, think of each position you do get as a stepping-stone to your quintessential job.
4. Use Your Connections
Sometimes all it takes is knowing the right person who can recommend you for a job or make an introduction. No connections? Time to network.
5. Attend, Attend, Attend
Attend as many workshops, seminars, conferences, job fairs, and industry-related events as you can. These events provide many networking opportunities. Treat each one of these as you would a job interview. Dress up, have a resume handy, and work the room to speak with people in your industry. You never know who you could meet.
Bonus: Some courses even provide you with a certification that you can add to your resume.
6. Job Shadow
Contact the HR department where you want to work and ask them if you can shadow one of their employees for a day or a week. It can be a great way to learn more about the company and get yourself on the HR department’s radar. Email a proposal outlining the details of how and why you would like to job shadow. Be sure to include a little about yourself and attach your resume if you wish. If they accept, make sure you prepare ahead of time so you can get the most out of the experience. Don’t be discouraged if they decline – some companies may not allow external job shadowing for privacy reasons.
Back up: If job shadowing is not possible, ask if you can meet with HR to discuss employment or if they have any recruitment events that you can attend.
Volunteering does not simply mean working for free. Join clubs, volunteer for charities and non-profits, and apply for internships. You will gain relevant skills and may even build your network along the way. Plus, helping others is always a positive thing. Bonus: volunteering shows that you are well-rounded and dedicated to your community – two qualities that many employers see as assets.