Job hunting can be a frustrating process, especially if you’re trying to get a position but don’t have the specific experience the job description requires. While your first instinct might be to not apply to the position, that could be a mistake. Just because you don’t have all of the candidate requirements doesn’t mean you can’t get the job.
Even if you don’t have the exact experience that a job description requires, there are still ways to increase your chances of getting that job. An employer’s Human Resources department approaches the hiring process as a supply and demand scenario, and they want to hire the best candidates for their company, even if they need to invest in some training into the new hires. If you can show that you’re a good candidate even without meeting every experience requirement, you’ll still be in the running to get the job. It all depends on how you present the experience that you do have and how you show the company that you’re still a good fit.
Consider Whether You Can Do the Job
Before you apply, sit down and try to get a sense of the specific tasks that you would be doing in this position on a daily basis. Some job descriptions outline these details well, while others don’t specifically list out the responsibilities. This is where you’ll need to fill in the blanks.
If you want to get a job when you don’t have much experience, you’ll need to determine how the experience and skills you do have will contribute to the position. For instance, if a job description requires you to have three years of fundraising experience and states that the employee will be responsible for assisting the head of donor relations with organization-wide fundraising efforts, you may still have skills that will help even without three years of experience in fundraising. This general job description may translate to tasks like writing and mailing direct mail solicitations, planning and managing fundraising events, designing fundraising campaigns, and possibly doing some grant writing.
Even without direct fundraising experience, you may still have some experience that proves you could do these tasks. Maybe you’ve planned and managed events before, or have designed and executed direct mail campaigns promoting an event or a product. These skills are still applicable to the position, but you’ll have to convey that well in your resume and cover letter.
Find Ways to Gain Specific Experience
While you can often demonstrate how different types of experience could apply to a position, in some cases you’ll really need particular experience to qualify for a position. For instance, even though you may be highly organized and good with numbers, a company may be firm that a candidate for fiscal position must have bookkeeping experience. There are ways you can still gain this experience without being formally employed.
Volunteering is one way to gain the experience that you need for a job while simultaneously helping others, too. Look for volunteer opportunities that will both use the skills you currently have and give you the opportunity to grow. As an added bonus, your supervisor in volunteer positions may be able to serve as a reference when you apply to jobs.
If you’re currently employed, your boss may be willing to pay for professional development opportunities. These can be classes, workshops, or other educational opportunities that help you to learn a new skill. Be sure to take advantage of any professional development that your company offers, and don’t be afraid to ask for professional development if there’s an opportunity that would teach you skills to help you do your job better.
Understand How to Position Yourself
When it comes to applying for a job, you need to position yourself well and highlight how your current skills and experience qualify you for the job, even though they may not be the specific requirements an employer seeks. Start by researching the goals of both the employer and the team that you’re going to be a part of. If you can clearly communicate your understanding of this business strategy in your cover letter and in an interview, you will stand out from other candidates who haven’t done their research.
When you write your resume and cover letter, highlight how the experience that you do have will be useful in this position. Don’t overlook the importance of essential soft skills, like leadership skills, multitasking capabilities, and time management skills. Many of these skills are important in different jobs, and even if your previous experience is unrelated to the job you’re applying for, it can still demonstrate your development of these important skills.
As you prepare for your job interview, think about how to best communicate the value of the experience that you do have. Be prepared to answer questions about your lack of experience, and use those questions as a chance to show how you’re still prepared to perform the job requirements well. By highlighting the skills and your previous accomplishments in past positions, you can increase your chances of getting hired for this new position even without much experience.