Experience Necessary: What to Do When a Job Demands More Than What You Have
When a job post says “experience necessary,” it can serve as a deterrent to any kind of forward motion in your career. But the driven young graduate is not discouraged by this. In fact, it motivates them toward success.
In the following article, we’ll be talking about what you should do when you encounter this seemingly exclusive requirement. There are ways around it — or at least through it. Let’s examine.
Give the Job Post a First Reading
A first reading of the job ad will give you an overview regarding the demands of the position. Usually, the longer the posting is, the more it will be seeking a higher-level candidate. These can be difficult to land when you’re at the dawn of your professional life.
The great thing about a first read-through — win or lose — is that it helps you break down the requirements and experience necessary into smaller chunks. Instead of looking at a huge wall of text you can’t possibly live up to (for now), you start to compartmentalize it in healthy ways. We’ll discuss how in the next section.
Read It Again
This time around, you’ll want to zoom in on the specific requirements. You’re not wanting to read everything this time. Only the parts you can relate to. Only the parts that can be construed as checklist items — strengths you either have or are close to having.
This skills inventory-taking step will do two things: it will highlight the gaps in your game, and it will give you confidence in the strengths that you do have. These are crucial revelations if you ever want to get over the hump and land the job of your dreams.
Third Time’s the Charm
Once you’ve pulled out your strengths and you’re sure of what they are, it’s time to revisit that job advertisement one last time. Well, one of the last times anyway. This will definitely be your last in-depth reading. Here’s how it works.
You skim over the job requirements and expectations. You mark the areas where you don’t measure up. You pull those off into a separate list. Finally, you review.
The third reading will do one of two things to help you out: it will clarify whether this is the type of job you want, and it will give you a roadmap for where you need to go next for gaining more experience. Maybe there’s a class or two you need to take or a volunteering opportunity that would help you close the gap.
Whatever it is, pay attention and devote yourself to continuing education.
The chance of getting a great job from a cold application isn’t great. But it’s way better than playing the lottery, and it can teach you some things that are vital to future professional development.
For starters, the application process helps you to put your best foot forward. This entails creating a resume that is brief, well-organized, and clearly formatted. Preferably, it’ll be something easy to tweak as needed, and with minimal effort.
Much of your professional journey will be about how well you present yourself, even more than how you measure up to the experience necessary. Applying to positions will help you perfect this skill.
It also will put you in touch with company contacts who are more than just an “info@” email address. Those are relationships you can begin to nurture. And they may pay off in big ways later down the road.
Expand Your Social Media Horizons
Social media has become something of a necessary evil these days. But it doesn’t have to be evil at all, if you’re using it correctly. Rather than using it as a place to post political rants and engage in arguments with almost-total strangers, you can instead see it as a networking tool to take your marketability to the next level.
How do you do that? You do it by focusing on creating the right relationships. LinkedIn is a great example of how to use social media in the right way (though it, too, can be abused so be careful).
With LinkedIn, it’s easy to find a company’s profile, see who’s on LinkedIn that works for that company, and then reach out to them to establish a personal connection. Other networks like Facebook or Twitter or even Instagram can be used to the same effect. Just make sure whatever you’re putting out there is a good representation of what type of employee you’d be, not how you are at your worst.
Take Those Relationships Offline If You Can
As valuable as social media is in kindling a relationship, it’s not that great for taking it to the next level. For relationships to really pay off, they have to be real. You can certainly nurture those relationships through a social platform. But people tend to do more business with individuals they know and trust on a more personal level.
So if you see value in a relationship, do what you can to take it offline into the real world. This does one of two things: it shows what a professional networker you are (a strong quality for any pro), and it tells the other person you’re serious and aren’t going to flake out on them.
Sure, you may not yield direct revenue from such relationships. But they can prove worthwhile in a variety of ways throughout your professional journey, particularly as it relates to winning referrals and references.
Continue Your Education
Even people who’ve earned doctorates in their field know there’s more to learn. In fact, it’s that love of learning that’s driven them to their current levels of success. So if you just cannot reconcile the skills/education/experience gap of a job posting, don’t lose heart.
Just keep working. Do what you have to do to be considered qualified. Of course, that comes with the caveat of ensuring the education you’re working toward is worth having. If there are changes brewing in an industry that may make certain requirements obsolete, then you’ll want to forgo those even if they’re valuable in the short term.
The main thing is to stay focused and to keep moving your learning forward. It will eventually pay off even if it doesn’t with the jobs you’re applying for in the present.
Getting the Experience Necessary Is Key
There is certain experience necessary that you’re not going to have in almost every job. As long as the gap between where you are and where you need to be isn’t a big one, then it shouldn’t keep you from being seriously considered. An example of this: if you are applying for a communications role at a specialized agency that has other legal training and requirements unrelated to the core role of communications.
In those cases, you may need to get the proper clearance and certifications, but those typically can be handled on the job. For larger skills gaps, though, you’ll need to head “back to school,” so to speak (and maybe literally), in order to get the necessary education for working in your field of choice.
Now it’s your turn. What are some ways you’ve been able to cleverly skirt a skills gap? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Career Camel]