Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Tips on What to Do When You Don't Have Experience

  1. Research. Don’t send generic resumes. They’re boring and they probably don’t make you sound very interested in that specific job. Resumes and cover letters must be tailored to the job you’re applying to otherwise it’s like nailing your resume to a tree hoping someone finds it…and reads it! Pick only a few companies you really want to work for, and focus your energies on them. What is their mission? What is their branding and marketing strategy (it shows you’re paying attention to the details). Use their own website and the “About Us” link as well as to find out more about the company.
  2. Give it away. Volunteerism can be a great way to gain valuable work experience. If possible, try to find volunteer opportunities within your field but even if you can’t many employers will see volunteerism as a worth-while activity. It shows an altruistic spirit and an example of a positive work ethic. In addition to seeking out volunteer opportunities to help supplement your skills and experience, these opportunities can also be a place-holder on your resume if it shows a gap of a year or more. You would simply add the volunteer experience as though it were one of your regular jobs. Some applications include a section for job-related volunteer experience while other applications provide an “Additional Information” section where you can list your volunteer activities. You can also include the Volunteer Coordinator as one of your references. This person would be the same as your supervisor. Check out the section volunteering on our website for more ideas. 
  3. Write a well-crafted cover letter for your resume. This is more conversational than a resume so it needs to be well-written: grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. The cover letter should be no more than 3 brief paragraphs. First paragraph explains HOW you found the job and that you’ve done some research. Second paragraph should state that you have the skills that match the posted job description. These should be in bullet points, easy to read, one-liners only, and no more than 4 points. The third paragraph is basically inviting the company to invite you to an interview closing the letter with a “thank you for your consideration” and your signature. 
  4. Follow the rules then break them. Follow the HR/Application Rules (complete the online application, submit your resume, cover letter, etc.). But then contact the department you’re applying for to introduce yourself. They may still say that you have to apply via their website. Let them know that you did but you want to express that you REALLY want to work for them and that you’re excited for this opportunity to hopefully interview. Don’t come across as desperate—just excited and assertive to compete for this position. Be bold (but not pushy), what do you have to lose?
  5. Make sure you send your resume and cover letter to the WGU Career & Professional Development Center for a critique.