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What if I have the skills, but not the experience?

Ask the Employer

Many of today’s job openings require specific qualifications, including a preferred amount or type of work experience. What advice would you offer to someone who has the skills and/or aptitude to perform a particular job, but who does not meet the experience requirement?

"Apply anyway, even if you are lacking the work experience!  As an employer, work experience does not necessarily mean that the person is a good fit for the organization.  If you are qualified for the job, then you can be trained and if you get the chance to interview, the employer may determine that your skill set, aptitude AND personality are a good fit for their culture, which is sometimes more important than all the experience in the world.  In addition, if you know you have the skill set and aptitude for the job, research an organization’s Mission, Vision and Values before applying to make sure that the organization is a good fit for you.  Then if you have an opportunity to interview, you will be prepared ahead of time to answer the infamous “why should we hire you “ question, regardless of your work experience." 

- Lisa Mulks, Frederick County Bank

"Provide the details in the cover letter.  If you are just starting out on your first job or are a recent college graduate, refer to a project that you worked on in school or an award won. Perhaps you may not have true work experience, but you have experience in the form of a hobby. That hobby may pertain to the requirement for the job, so you may have several years of experience not even included on your resume.  Sometimes a deciding factor as to whether a person is brought in for an interview or not is the information right there in the cover letter."

- Rose Davis, Canam Steel

"In many cases, an experience requirement is more of a guideline than a steadfast rule, so still apply to the position. Since recruiters spend a very short amount of time reviewing each resume, make sure your resume is tailored to the specific position. Highlight the most relevant qualifications near the top in a summary or objective statement. If you still think that the recruiter will have a hard time understanding how you could be a fit for the position, consider including a brief cover letter that quickly explains why your qualifications and work experience make you a perfect match for the job. Also remember that many employers will consider training, education, volunteer work, etc. as experience, so don’t short change yourself when calculating how many years you actually have doing a particular job or skill."

- Amanda Haddaway, Folcomer Equipment Corporation