I lack job experience
It sucks when you lack job experience. As we move closer to June, graduation time for schools is approaching and there is a demon in the ear of many recent graduate candidates that whispers evil “nothings” into the insecure ear:
“You lack job experienceeeee. You are not qualifiedddd. Everyone has more experience than you doooo?????????”
I am here to tell you that these evil “nothings” are exactly that. Nothing! So give them the finger and pay no mind!
I probably hear about this thought process the most when I work with candidates that have just graduated from school or have recently changed careers. With graduation coming near, I am hearing this more and more. Both of these demographics can have the most the most positive outlook when it comes to their new careers but understandably the fear of the unknown creeps in. The fear that you lack job experience may be true, but this is exactly what the company is looking for.
I am here to reinforce why you shouldn’t worry about your qualifications or worry that you lack job experience. At the end of the day, if you don’t have confidence in your interview skills you can do one of two things:
- Stay in bed and save your gas money.
- Practice what you are going to say and remember to smile.
As a candidate, you are not able to control a number of factors when it comes to the interview, but one of the variables that you can control is your fear. Naysayers would have you believe that you are not able to control whether or not a job is going to open up or when the recruiter is going to make a call and to whom. I personally believe that we can influence the process, but at the end of the day, I get it, there are just some things that are out of our control. One thing we can control is our fear. As a candidate, you need to eliminate fear and lack of confidence so you can focus your energy on landing the position.
I am here to give you some confidence and explain why you shouldn’t listen to the evil voice in your naive, little mind.
If you are a recent college graduate or a candidate that recently changed careers and lack job experience, you should be applying for positions within your experience range. The job descriptions are reading something like:
- Entry level position in banking
- 1-2 years of experience required
The positions you are interested in may not even be this specific. These positions may not list a minimum or a specific number of years of experience, and this is mainly because they don’t require any. These positions usually list specific skill sets and personal attributes like “talented”, “enthusiastic”, “people skills”, “desire for growth” or “leadership and ambition”. These positions may require a degree but more often than not, they don’t require a specific degree as a pre-requisite. These job descriptions usually do NOT list specific job experience requirement. Don’t’ be scared off by a 1 to 2-year requirement. If you lack job experience, you are qualified for and should apply for a position requiring 1-2 years of experience. You can outperform a candidate that has 1-2 years more experience than you in an interview. It will be tough to outperform a 10-year veteran, but 1-2 years makes it an even playing field. Remember, it is the person that performs the best in the interview that lands the job. The candidate that has 1-2 years of experience doesn’t have THAT much more experience than you.
The point being is that you shouldn’t worry about your lack of job experience or qualifications. The company is looking for someone like you. The company is looking for an entry-level candidate with little or no experience. Yes, there may be plenty of experienced veterans applying for the position, but trust me: the hiring company isn’t looking at these candidates.
As a recruiter and hiring manager, I don’t want to compare you with experienced candidates because the company doesn’t want to pay for all these years of experience. Someone that has 10 years of experience may be willing to settle for this type of position and pay, but the company doesn’t want to hire this candidate for a long list of reasons of which I am only listing a few:
- The experienced candidate will be bored and probably not challenged
- The experienced candidate will probably leave as soon as they find a position that is a better match. I don’t want to spend the resources to train an employee that is looking at us as a stepping-stone for their career.
- In the long run, the experienced veteran will probably be insulted they are being paid an entry-level salary for their skill set. In 9 times out of 10, this ends up leading to all sorts of HR related problems that fall on “guess who” to solve.
If the company has a budget of $X we are not going to find a 10-year vet and say, “perfect, let’s pay what the candidate needs financially” which may be $3X. We are running a business and this salary doesn’t make business sense. We don’t have the budget or the need for this level of experience.
The other side of the coin is that experienced veterans have mortgages to pay, and braces for their children’s crooked teeth to worry about. They have college education tuitions in their future and an entry-level salary isn’t going to cut it.
For those entry-level candidates who are unsure of what to do or how to present your case in an interview, it is probably because you have limited interviewing experience. This makes sense, you may or may not have held a full-time job yet and any good recruiter or hiring manager will recognize this and handicap your performance with your lack of experience in mind. I will literally reset expectations with a hiring manager if we are interviewing someone who has limited full-time experience. “Remember, this is probably their first interview”
There is a reason that entry-level positions are called “entry level”. These jobs do not require day-to-day decisions that require a lot of experience. That is not to belittle anyone. Just like a football team has a backup quarterback or a quarterback in training, we need employees in training at just about every position. We don’t want our highest paid employees doing work that “isn’t challenging”, or maybe “boring” per the above bullets. It isn’t a good use of company resources and a quick way to lose senior talent.
Consequently, the company is not always looking for experience. At this level, we are looking for potential. A solid track record in school, some internships or other activities while you went to school all point to “work ethic”. At this point, this is the information that goes into a hiring decision. We don’t expect a college graduate to come in and make a huge impact on a business. We are hoping you can grow with us and become a game changer. Yes, like any hire, it is a risk. We are taking a gamble on every hire so to put the odds in your favor, you need to do a few things:
- Show potential (talk about your prior successes whether that be school, work, or extracurricular activities)
- Demonstrate a willingness to work hard (Prior examples are the best)
- Get along with the more experienced players. (Don’t offend anyone and remember, you are probably interviewing with managers that are of your parent’s generation)
- Relating your prior work experience to the specific position you are applying for is key. (You have limited time in an interview, so everything you say should be directly relatable to the position of interest.)
Hopefully, if you lack job experience, the above will ease your mind. Remember, you are not competing with candidates that have 5 years or 10 years of experience. You are competing with candidates that look, smell, and sound just like you. Show confidence in your ability and smile.
Next week, “why experienced workers shouldn’t worry about younger and inexperienced candidates as competition in the job search”.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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