Figuring out how to fill up a blank resume is disheartening when many entry-level jobs require a few years of work experience. Since you can't travel back in time to rack up internships and part-time jobs, you have to shape your talents, education and personality into a strong selling point. Whether you're a recent grad or a first-time job seeker, overcome a lack of work experience by demonstrating your passion and initiative.
Setting low expectations may seem strange because parents and mentors probably always told you to aim high. However, entry-level jobs are different from one industry to the next, and it may take substantial training or technical knowhow beyond a degree to qualify for your target positions. If you consistently fall short on basic requirements, consider getting part-time work in low-skilled jobs that relate to your chosen field. Taking a temporary position allows you to build work experience while you address skill gaps. Otherwise, you might exhaust yourself chasing after jobs you're not really ready to take on.
Get Realistic Information
Too often, new job seekers wait until they're interviewing to learn the ins and outs of a specific role. To stand out, you have to show hiring managers your knowledge and motivation outweigh your thin resume. Get an advantage over the competition by asking for practical insight from professionals who understand relevant business operations.
Start with personal contacts, or use LinkedIn, newspapers and business directories to research key people in your community. Reach out with a polite phone call or email to request a short meeting over coffee or lunch. Many professionals are flattered to meet an admiring fan, especially if you offer an incentive. Find out what goals and challenges shape your target roles, and accept any opportunity to shadow professionals on the job. At the very least, being proactive can earn you allies at companies you're interested in.
Focus Your Resume
When your work experience isn't robust, distract hiring managers with your most marketable qualities. Dissect the language in job postings to understand the soft skills and work ethic an employer values. You can use alternative work experience, such as volunteering, work study, church activities and academic enrichment, to persuade hiring managers you have the right qualities.
Fundraising for a church, doing unpaid work for a small business or serving on a student organization are all great ways to show commitment and professionalism. Use whatever background you have to create a focused, compelling narrative that encourages readers to trust in your potential.
Expand Your Education
Sometimes, sharpening your technical skills is the only way to increase your standing. If you frequently strike out at the interview stage, ask hiring managers what you can do to improve. Use their feedback to prioritize your educational needs, and look for free resources to quickly build these skills. Don't just read and absorb information. Setting aside time to practice new skills can help you create and polish work samples.
Getting more work experience is a challenge everyone faces, so you shouldn't feel badly about a slow job search. Showing humility and eagerness to learn can win over employers who want to cultivate raw talent, putting you on the path to a rewarding career.
Photo courtesy of perzon seo at Flickr.com