Question: “How do I gain the necessary experience employers seek?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Okay, so maybe it’s a little unfair, but you still need to deal with the fact that employers are looking for all job-seekers to have some amount of experience — even for those “entry-level” positions.
So how are you supposed to gain the experience? Here are five major avenues where you can gain experience:
- Part-time (or summer) jobs. These jobs that help pay the bills are often overlooked or downplayed by new job-seekers… but don’t downplay your retail sales clerk or waitressing experience. These part-time jobs show that you can be a responsible employee, that you can interact with customers, and that you understand the basics of business.
- Internships. I encourage all college students — if possible — to complete at least two internships while in school. Not only can internships help hone your career interests, they give you valuable experience in your career field and provide you with valuable contacts for your network.
- Volunteering. If you’ve done a lot of volunteer work, be sure to show it on your resume… even if that volunteer work was not necessarily in your career field. These experiences show your maturity in recognizing a world outside your college dorm room — and they can also provide you with important contacts for your network.
- Class projects. At my university, we require our business students to complete quite a number of class projects, many for actual clients. If you prepared a marketing plan for a local business, designed store windows for a local merchant, conducted market research, etc., then by all means include this valuable experience on your resume. Don’t overplay the experience, but do include it.
- Temping. A lot of job-seekers overlook temporary agencies because of the misconception that temp agencies are only for secretarial or clerical work. In fact, many temp agencies place a wide variety of professionals in short-term, long-term, and contract placement… and this kind of work is a great way to gain experience and confidence. Read more about temping.
There are more than just these five — and you can read about them all in our Job Search 101 Tutorial, specifically on the Gaining Experience page.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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