I Have No Relevant Experience! Help!

Nancy Anderson
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If you're entering a new field or getting ready to graduate from college, you may be intimidated by job postings that ask applicants to have relevant experience, and chances are, most job postings want someone who has done this type of job before. But what if you don't have traditional experience that involves paid work? Consider these three ways to demonstrate you still have what it takes to get the job done.

Your Academic or Student Life Experience

If you're a college grad, your academic experience might include an internship or leadership role in a student organization. Not all majors require internships, but these opportunities offer students valuable work experience in the field. Some students even choose to participate in internships after graduation just to gain the relevant experience for the industry in which they want to work. Membership in a student organization, whether in a leadership position on an executive board or as a general member, can also provide relevant experience, especially if the student organization is related to a particular field, such as the Economics Student Association, Society of Manufacturing Engineers or Supply Chain Management Student Association.

Volunteer or Project Management Experience

Volunteering is another way to gain and show relevant experience. You might have participated in volunteer opportunities while you were in college or as part of a student group, or maybe you serve on the board of a nonprofit or your church. Say you're interested in special event planning but don't feel your current position as an administrative assistant reflects your skills in this area. You're about to give up on applying for a job that looks like a great fit except for the relevant experience when you suddenly realize the time you spent planning the Christmas in July fundraising event and the volunteer thank-you party are perfect examples of your experience with event planning.

They might not be the traditional types of experience you tend to think of first, but they still show your aptitude with that type of task. You could also consider projects you managed in the office as possible event planning experience. Did you plan an office party or put together a large event for the company? Use those as examples of event planning successes.

Natural Experience

You don't want to discount your natural experience either. Maybe you've always had a strong interest in event planning or wedding planning and have helped friends and family plan and organize large events. If you've got a knack for planning large events and know the ins and outs of the industry just from your personal interests, you can come across as a credible job candidate. The more you learn about the industry, the easier it is to talk about it and understand the hot topics or trends that employers are facing.

Your experience may be more relevant than you think. Don't give up on a great opportunity just because you don't have the traditional experience an employer may request in a job posting. Take a deeper look at your past experiences and frame them in your application materials so that they become relevant experiences.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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