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How do you get enough experience to get hired?

I was talking to a few of my college- going friends and they mentioned that it was difficult to find good jobs that would hire them without experience. Is this a real problem that everyone faces and if so how do we get enough experience to get hired by the companies we want? #human-resources #experience #hiring

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Jared’s Answer

<h1>Step 1: Get experience even if it isn't "work" experience</h1>

For example if you're applying for a job that requires 2 years of marketing experience, and you're still in college, you may still be competitive if you can demonstrate that you have been doing marketing activities in non-work settings for multiple years. Here are examples of non-work marketing experience that might help you qualify, with examples of the kind of claims you would need to be able to make on your resume to demonstrate that your experience was relevant to the job:

  1. Chief Marketing Officer of (name of some High School Club): Created and executed a successful flyer-and-email-based marketing campaign to increase weekly attendance from an average of 13 to an average of 53 within 3 months.

  2. Marketing Intern at (name of some local business): Designed an online advertising campaign using Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and that increased online sales by 22% within 2 months and brought in $32 of revenue for every $1 of ad spend.

  3. Youth representative at (name of regional marketing conference): Received a scholarship to attend this major regional conference focused on digital marketing skill development and networking.

  4. Blogger at (name of blog): Author of blog posts related to the experience of learning about marketing. Read my posts at [link]

  5. Marketing volunteer at (name of nonprofit): Managed the logistics of sending a 12,500-piece mass mail campaign that generated $124,000 in donations to this local nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Yellow Tailed Hawk.

  6. Other stuff (be creative!)

I made up all of these ^ examples, but you can apply this kind of idea to any area of interest you have. If you want examples for a specific industry or career path, post that as a separate question here on the site and I'll come up with new ideas.

<h1>Step 2: Do things to stand out when you apply</h1>

Even if you do a great job with Step 1, you are still going to be competing with people with multiple years of work experience, so you need to do really aggressive (but stay professional!) things to stand out. For example, you might walk into the office and introduce yourself at the front desk, hand them a resume, shake their hand and declare that you are really interested in the job and want to see if you could schedule a time to come back for an interview. Or you might mail them an actual letter with your actual resume. Or you might create a little website at Hire[your_name]For[company_name].com and take out an ad on Facebook targeting the employers of your target employer. Or you might try to go to an event where someone from the company is speaking and go up afterward to introduce yourself and hand over a resume. Or you might try to network your way to someone in that company from whom to ask for advice on how to get yourself noticed. Or you might try inviting someone from the company to speak at one of your high school clubs, and then afterward (assuming they had a positive experience), you could inquire about job availabilities at their company. Or you might try applying for the job with an offer to work for a 20% salary discount versus the posted salary ("to reduce your risk in hiring me and to demonstrate that I'm really worth hiring"). Or you could try other things. Be creative.

But above all, if the position expects applicants with prior work experience, and you are going to try to apply for those jobs, I believe you will get much better results doing things that help you stand out. Full disclosure: evidence is hard to come by on what the return is on time spent using this approach versus the "send 1,000 cover letters and 1,000 resumes to 1,000 companies without doing any customization at all" approach. But I've found in my experience as a hiring manager that when I'm looking for specific prior work experience, cutting out applicants without any prior work experience is the fastest way to reduce wasted time on my part. So if you were to try to get in front of a hiring manager like me, you'd have to do something to stand out.

<h1>Step 3: Know when not to waste your time</h1>

Sometimes there's no hope. If someone says they want candidates with 4 years of work experience and an MBA, and all you have is a high school diploma and a couple years of college with no related volunteer or club or personal experiences, don't even waste your time applying. You need to focus on the opportunities where you'd be a stretch candidate, but not an impossible candidate. Then make those dreams a reality by boosting your non-work experience (step 1) and finding a way to stand out (step 2). But if for example you spend 1 hour a day working on your job search, and each job opportunity takes you 3.5 hours to prepare for and apply for using the methods above, you can only apply for 2 jobs a week on average. So you have to use your 2 job applications wisely!

<h1>Why this works: It's all about confidence</h1>

Not your confidence. Their confidence. When a hiring manager says that they want a lot of experience, they are usually (but not always) doing that because they don't have a desire to train someone and are looking to hire someone who will be helpful from Day 1. So to convince someone like this that they should take a chance on you, you really need to build their confidence that you will be able to perform very well in the job function.

Source: I hire people for CareerVillage.org and I get a ton of applications from people with a wide range of experience levels.

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Nouha’s Answer

Try to find the companies and industries you are interested in – the key thing is really to try out the corporate world by applying for internship whenever you can, or any short term contract to get an insider view of various business.
A lot of companies offer internship opportunities and apprenticeship for students still in college. Doing so will give you the experience you require and open-up door for you to pursue the career you are keen to pursue. But definitely keep an early eye on those.

Thank you so much. That's super helpful! Shruthi B.

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Brandi’s Answer

Definitely do some research on summer intern opportunities! Most large companies offer some form of internship options.

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Dawn’s Answer

A couple tips would be: 1) don't be afraid to take an entry level position that gets you the experience you need for the more advanced position; 2) don't forget to think about the skills you have that might be transferrable. For example, if you have worked as a server in a restaurant or as a cashier at a food establishment (i.e. McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A) you have customer service skills!