Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Job Search Tips: Going Beyond Work Experience

If you’ve ever been in the same boat as me then you know the frustration of seeing an ad for an entry level job with a required 2-5 years of work experience. The obvious problem for most people going for an entry level position is that they do not have a whole lot of work experience under their belts. Everyone has had internships and summer jobs, and most of them have hopefully applied to the skill sets needed for the careers they wanted to pursue. However, it is not the most common thing in the world to find someone just jumping into the job market with five years of experience in a specific field outside of retail and food vending.

So the paradox is that in order to get the work experience, you need to get the job. Only, to get the job you need work experience. This is just one of those universal mysteries government scientists are paid to unravel. But there is still hope! Work experience is not the only thing employers are looking for. Although work experience is a great help, what employers are looking for are people with specific skill sets to get the job done. Thankfully, there are more ways than one to develop them.

The important thing is to look for activities that will show training relevant to the work experience you aren’t having any luck getting. Volunteer work is probably one of the easiest ways to get going on building your repertoire of skills. Volunteer work offers a ton of opportunities that you can very easily get involved with. If you need managerial experience, become the coach of a little league team. Although it may not be professional, you are still in charge of a team and driving it towards a specific goal. The beautiful thing about volunteer work is that in lieu of work experience, it develops your skill set and shows that you are an active person. Plus, it is almost impossible to be denied volunteer work, so go see what it’s like for someone to say ‘yes’ to you.

The most significant development to benefit this niche of job seekers is the recent explosion of free online classes. Sites like Coursera or Udacity offer a list of free online classes provided by prestigious universities, a few of which even offer certification. There are also universities like Stanford and University of Toronto that offer open classroom video lectures that are available for anyone to watch. I strongly believe that life is the pursuit of unending improvement, and most employers love hearing that. They love to see that they have in front of them a candidate who strives to be better without someone cracking the whip at their backs. Sites like these can help build technical skill sets that are otherwise unavailable outside of school and part-time jobs, like learning to code or a manual of style.

There are a lot of tools out there that can help you stand out despite a lack of work experience- be they volunteer work or a little more knowledge. Although this doesn’t guarantee that every place you apply to will call you for an interview, it is guaranteed to at least get you a few more interviews where you wouldn’t have gotten calls, and one or two job offers where you would have only gotten an interview.

What are some ways you increase your chances of getting an interview or the job aside from work experience? Share with us in the comments section below!

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Bane Srdjevic

Bane is a Purdue graduate and has been through a lot of the trials and tribulations every job seeker goes through. He is looking to spread his knowledge so that other job seekers don't make the same mistakes. Learning by doing is fine, but knowledge is king.