The Work Experience Issue

A college degree looks fantastic on your resume, but many employers want more than a piece of paper that says you finished school —they want experience. But how can you gain experience when no one will hire you without it? Consider the following tips to help you become more competitive.

Show Off What You’ve Learned

Your resume might be short on experience, but you can exploit the experience you do have. Maybe that summer you spent working in a fast food restaurant taught you about teamwork and customer service. Perhaps you learned leadership skills through an extracurricular activity.

Drawing attention to your good character skills is valuable. One talent acquisition manager for Western Union said, “It’s much easier for companies to train their employees on technical skills versus core competencies like leadership skills, analytical abilities, motivation, ambition and problem-solving. These traits span multiple industries and functional areas.”


Are there any charities or nonprofit organizations in your chosen field that you could volunteer for? Volunteering will give you practical experience, and it will show potential employers that you have a sense of social responsibility.

One of the biggest perks of volunteering is that it is a golden opportunity for networking. You could meet professionals in your field whom you might be able to use as references on your next job application. Your contacts could even tell you about upcoming job opportunities and provide you with a glowing recommendation.

Research the Companies You’re Applying To

Chad Paris, CEO of Parisleaf, stated, “I want somebody to come in and tell me what they know about my company, not that I’m just another company that they’re interviewing with.” That said, when you’re writing a cover letter to a company, Google it and find out about its mission, size, and leadership team. When you go in for an interview, use what you learned to show that you’re interested in more than just getting a job. Show them you’re interested in working for that specific company.

Doing thorough research will also demonstrate to potential employers that you enjoy learning, a very valuable trait to potential employers.

Be Realistic and Patient

Some employers are unyielding on their experience requirement. Instead of wasting your time begging for a job, start looking elsewhere. When you have some experience under your belt, you can try again with the companies that interest you the most.

Be patient, and keep a positive attitude. A job may not fall into your lap right after you get your undergrad degree, but if you keep looking for employment, you will find it. Some campuses even have job placement services that can get you started. You can even look at other resources too, including online job boards.

Work experience is often one of the most desirable things to employers, but even without it, getting a good job is possible if you follow the above advice.

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