“My path has not been determined.
I shall have more experiences and pass many more milestones.”
– Agnetha Faltskog
I often say we should stop calling it “Talent Acquisition,” because the reality is most managers are more comfortable hiring experience, than talent. We should just call it “Experience Acquisition.” Here’s a good post on why talent can be better than experience.
That sucks but it’s the reality of today’s world. (Just remember that when you’re a manager and you have the chance to hire someone with great talent, but not experience.)
If you’re a new or recent grad, the lack of experience can be a job search blocker. It can become a major point of frustration (and annoyance) as you attempt to launch your career.
However, I’ve seen numerous success stories with clients who have overcome this dilemma, and I want to share some strategies about how you can do that, too.
1. Build Relationships
With limited experience your network, existing relationships, and eagerness to pursue new connections will go a long way. It will be easy to disqualify you if your resume does not have deep experience.
But, if you can get clear on what you’re looking for, build new relationships, and demonstrate your enthusiasm, you can make inroads on the “lack of experience” issue. Most clients find work by targeting employers they want to work for, and developing relationships within them.
Learn to overcome the fear and dread of networking as part of that. Listen to my conversation with John Muscarello of Endless Job Offers. We did this a while back, but the information is still relevant.
2. Shift the Conversation to Focus on Skills + Talents
You have to redirect the conversation, so demonstrate how your “talent” and skills, will help fulfill the requirement hiring managers see as experience.
For example, I like to point out that only a few years ago, the iPhone didn’t even exist. No one could have hired app developers with deep experience, because there weren’t any. But the people hired to build apps clearly had talent in programming, code and design.
Experience may matter, and, adaptability matters as well. Find a way to take the experience you DO have, and translate it into the skills that employer is looking for. See my video on Why Should They Hire You? which walks you through translating your prior experience into value statements.
Your conversation may go like this:
Employer: “Oh, I see you don’t have any experience in the jewelry industry.”
You: “Well, would it be important to have someone in this job who can manage a social media campaign, grow followers and execute messaging that is consistent with the brand?”
Employer: “Well… yes.”
You: “Those are the skills I have that you need in this job. And I’ll bring them from day 1 to grow followership and attract clients.”
Most new grads have more experience and skills than they give themselves credit for, but they struggle with turning it into value statements for employers. TWEET THIS!
3. Investigate the Employer
When you’re competing with little experience, one advantage you can have is to gather as much information as possible.
If you have an information edge (read here for how to get one) and really investigate a potential employer, you can have a different conversation than someone who didn’t do their homework.
Investigate the employer, the competition, the customers, and even former employees to get immersed in their position, issues and opportunities. Then develop killer questions that will make you stand out. In this post I give you 5 creative research ideas to prepare for interviews.
A job search is mostly a research project. And this kind of research can help you stand out – and feel more confident – when you’re in the process.
4. Ask Better Questions Than Anyone Else
Take your investigative information and develop a great list of questions that will set you apart from other candidates.
Even as an entry-level candidate, show your interest in the organization by bringing your best game in every network conversation, informational interview or networking conversation you have.
In this post I show you how to turn the interview into a more “consultative conversation.” Good questions are a part of doing that. Even if you only have a few hours to prepare, I show you how to hit the research high points in 3 hours, in this post.
5. Differentiate Yourself With Work Product
Find a way to take what experience you do have and produce a work sample with it.
If you coordinated a sorority event, perhaps outline your role, the objective, your action plan and the results you got.
If you started your own business perhaps summarize your plan, progress and results in a quick slide deck, white paper or video.
If you had an internship, bring work product that summarizes the projects you worked on, your role and your contributions to the team.
Even though your experience may not be identical to what the employer is looking for, work product can go a long way in demonstrating how you think, present yourself, and approach problem-solving and results.
6. Offer a Start-Up Plan
When I was a hiring manager, I always wanted to hire someone who really wanted that job.
I didn’t want to hire someone who “wanted to get his or her foot in the door.” In fact that often got them eliminated right off the bat.
One way you can show your enthusiasm for that job and overcome the experience gap, is to present a startup plan if you get the job. I once presented a 30-60-90 day plan for a job I really wanted (I was hired). I knew the industry but I didn’t have the experience they wanted in the job. By presenting a plan, I was able to demonstrate my critical thinking skills, ability to see the field and then shift the conversation to talk about what I would do in the job.
You can do the same. Create a simple 90-day plan, identify the important tasks and objectives you would target and present that as part of your interview process.
7. Stamp Your Foot and Whine
I share this with you as a funny story that could have gone either way.
A recent grad knew exactly what she was looking for in a job, and was getting a number of interviews. She was frequently on the short list, but then told, “We went with someone with more experience.”
At a point of frustration, after many rejections for someone with more experience, she said to the employer, “How am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me because I don’t have experience?” She was exasperated.
Funny thing is, they called her back, said they agreed with her, and offered her a job! She’s been there ever since. I’m not advocating this as a strategy, but sometimes, funny things happen in the job search!
How many strategies can you implement to respond to the “lack of experience” objection? Let me know what actions you take, or what questions/challenges you are having.