When applying for jobs in a tough economy, you're going to face some unique obstacles. For example, you might be applying for the same job as a worker who's more seasoned and experienced than you. After all, the job market is flooded with candidates, so you'll likely be going head-to-head against a wide variety of people.
But remember, no two jobs are the same. Some jobs require a certain amount of overall experience, while others require a certain amount of experience in a particular field. There's no way to know if you have enough experience unless you've done your homework and figured out what the target company is truly looking for in their applicants.
If you're worried that your resume seems a little light on experience, you'll need to take a step back and consider a few different factors. First of all, what type of experience is the company looking for? Some companies want experience that's generalized and applies to many different fields. Other jobs have very specific experience requirements. Sometimes, there's no experience requirement at all.
Review the job ad at hand and figure out exactly what the target company wants. If it's relevant experience, make sure your resume hits on job responsibilities and accomplishments that relate to this position—and this position only.
Apply even if it's a close call
It's okay if you don't have a ton of work experience, especially if you're looking for entry-level work. Employers understand that some candidates simply need to be trained and groomed a bit. This situation is quite common, so just apply for the position even if you're on the fringe or a bit under-qualified.
At the same time, don't completely (and consistently) over-reach. There are companies that will overlook a lack of experience if an interview goes well. There are other companies that will provide on-the-job training to make up for a lack of experience. But either way, you want to apply for jobs that you have a fighting chance to land. It's great to have high standards and a clear understanding of what you want to do. But it's also valuable to get some experience under your belt first.
Go get some more experience
There are jobs where you can gain a fair amount of experience in a short amount of time. Because of this, simply getting into a job—even if it's low paying and entry level—might be your wisest move. Once you're in the office, you'll learn all about the industry and pick up knowledge that covers several different positions.
Rather than assuming that you'll never have enough experience, go out and get the experience that companies say they're looking for. You can do this via volunteer work, online courses, or an internship. Either way, when companies see that you're taking strides in the right direction, they might take a chance on your because you're showing drive.
Keep your contacts up to date
If you're applying for jobs, keep your contacts close at-hand. Remember that 70 percent of job openings are never even posted. That means these positions are generally filled through personal recommendations. So stay active on social media, and make sure your contacts know you're actively looking for work.
And if you get a call back from an HR manager, don't let the information go in one ear and out the other. Take notes during the phone call, and keep it close by in case they call you again. Hiring managers can tell the difference between a candidate who's truly interested in the company (and the company's goals) and a candidate who's simply looking for a paycheck.
Sell yourself with your resume and cover letter
Your cover letter is the first thing hiring managers will read, so it needs to be memorable. Even if you don't have years of experience, your cover letter should sell you as a great candidate for the job. If you're not quite sure how to frame your cover letter, turn to LiveCareer for some help. With Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder, you can create a well-written resume and cover letter in no time at all.