What to do if you’re lacking experience?

One of the issues I face regularly in re-writing resumes for college students and those re-entering the workforce after an extended absence is that the clients are hoping I’ll be able to “work my magic,” and make their resumes read as if they have more experience than they actually do.

I can’t do that. Sorry.

This is one of those situations in which I have the proverbial angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil on the other, whispering in my ears.

Devil: Hey, it’s none of your business if they want a fluffed-up, wordy resume. It’s their money. Use your creative writing skills and embellish that puppy!

Angel: You know if you do that, the resume is going straight to the recycle bin. Recruiters have really good “B.S.” detectors. (The angel uses the abbreviation, because we all know an angel would never say, “bullshit.”)

Me: Would you two leave me alone? I’m trying to make a living here!

But enough about me and the voices in my head. What should YOU do if you’re lacking in experience?

No experience? Get some!

The simple solution to the problem of not having enough experience is to get some experience! THEN update your resume, and apply for your dream job.

How can you get experience if no one will hire you? Good question! (My readers always ask the best questions.)

First, let’s just make it clear that not having experience in a particular field or industry is not a reflection on you as a person, or as a potential employee. It’s just that having experience in the field you want to pursue will make you more valuable to employers, and give you the confidence you need to negotiate a job and a good salary.

There are a lot of ways to get experience without being offered a primo job. The most obvious way is to volunteer your services.

Work for FREE?!

Yes, that’s right. I know, you have bills to pay, and maybe you just spent a hundred thousand dollars on a fancy degree, and you feel your time is worth money. We all feel that way. Your potential employer feels that way, too, and in a down economy, the employers have plenty of choices. They’re going to hire candidates who show dedication and commitment to the industry.

By they way, no, I’m not belittling those who have earned degrees. I have a couple of those, too. I’m still paying the student loan on my last one. Welcome to the club.

So, work your contacts list (you have one of those, right?), and see if you can get anyone to let you do some work for them on a volunteer basis, or as an internship. Check your local non-profits and churches to see if they will let you volunteer your services doing the type of work you’re interested in doing. A lot of the mega-churches have day-labor type programs to help re-train people who have been laid off, and employers from the community will hire from their pool of trainees.

Another option you have is to thoroughly research the industry you’re interested in, and begin to write about it. Start a blog (you can do that for free, now), grow a contacts list, and transform yourself into a valuable resource. This will do double-duty. If done correctly, a blog can serve as an online portfolio of your knowledge and skill, AND it can help you make the right connections to get your foot in the door where you want to be. This is a particularly good option if you’re like a lot of us, and need to work SOMEWHERE while you’re waiting for the job you want. A blog can be researched and updated in your free time.

Have you found a creative way to get experience when no one would hire you? I’d love to hear your ideas. Post them in the comments below.

Best of luck with your career transition!

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