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Cover-ups happen all the time. For years, people have been trying to conceal the truth about alien encounters, square planets, and dinosaur amusement parks.
But the greatest smokescreen of all time has nothing to do with grassy knolls or UFOs. No, it’s that you can cover up your lack of work experience and actually get a job, make money, and get some of that pesky experience that’s been causing you so much grief.
Read on to learn the best ways to overcome your inexperience and get that job you’ve been hoping for.
1. Bury your work experience in your resume. If you had a zit, you certainly wouldn’t shine a light to it and set up a photo booth. No, you’d put concealer over it. That’s how you should treat your lack of work experience – as if it’s the unwanted zit of your resume.
Move your work experience to the bottom of your resume, and instead draw attention to your education, skills and any other career or educational highlights. White space is fine – just make sure your resume clearly communicates your greatest strengths.
2. Don’t overlook first jobs, quasi-jobs, or volunteer work. You have work experience even if you don’t realize it. That school club you were a part of? That was a job. Your sorority? Count it.
Maybe you worked at a retirement home in high school. Perhaps you have a hobby, like building computers, that shows you’re creative and take initiative. Whatever it may be, your “work-like” experiences have taught you certain skills – even if just soft skills like time management – so put them on your resume. And when it comes time to apply for a job, relate what you’ve learned to the position.
3. Give yourself credit, but don’t lie. You know that summer camp you worked at? Well, your potential employers don’t. So when you describe it, make it awesome.
More importantly, make your job duties sound significant. Collecting camp payments shows that you can “manage funds” and “process payments.” Stopping a kid from giving a smaller kid a wedgie shows that you’re “good at conflict resolution.”
Feel free to stretch and emphasize the qualities you have that make you qualified, but never flat-out lie. Instead, sell your abilities, tell them what they want to hear, and then make sure you can back up all that talk once you land the gig.
4. Accept that you’re inexperienced, and turn it into a strength. Some things you just can’t change. The sooner you accept these facts, the better off you are.
The same principle applies to your lack of work experience. You can’t magically add 10 years of experience to your past, so own the fact that you’re a total rookie and put a positive spin on it: you’re ready to learn, you’re quick to adapt, you bring a fresh outlook and you’re excited to start your career.
A lot of “experienced” workers are also terrible employees. Emphasize that, although you’re new, you can handle the job duties and you want the position.
5. Make yourself stand out in a positive way. Employers often hire the person they like over the candidate who’s most qualified. After all, they have to work with, talk to and share oxygen with this person for at least 40 hours a week.
So don’t blend into the masses during the application process. Make your resume and cover letter really pop off the page by researching the company, speaking to the job ad and by painting a clear picture of who you are and why you’re unique.
While interviewing, show genuine excitement for the position and – if it comes up naturally – share something noteworthy about your personal life. If you’ve been training for marathons, talk about it. Hobbies show that you’re driven and interesting, and you’ll likely be remembered as the “marathon guy,” which is better than not making an impression at all.
6. Exude confidence in your interview. Your interviewer realizes you don’t have a ton of work experience. After all, he’s seen your resume.
But if you land an interview, who cares? Clearly, they like you enough to look past your inexperience. They will care, however, if they have to sit in the room with a shy and insecure bed-wetter. So come across as confident, fun to work with, and knowledgeable despite being so raw.
Experience is only half the battle. If you can win the other half – being an interesting person, confident in your career decisions and fun to talk to – you’ll have a good shot at the job.
About the Author
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder connects job seekers across experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Check out LiveCareer’s Google+ page and like LiveCareer on Facebook for advice and tips on all things career and resume-related.