#20: Not enough work experience for the job? (No problem.)

shutterstock_489313348-2The ultimate problem of  job searching, especially as a graduate: you’re targeting entry-level roles, but even these require at least a couple years’ of industry work.

How are you supposed to get any exposure to the field if you can’t even land a position at the bottom of the career ladder? If an entry-level job is one that’s designed for people with no prior experience, what’s up with this requirement? Why do so many employers include it in the listing? I know this is frustrating, but not quite as bad as you might think.

In most cases, you can think of job descriptions as a hiring manager’s wish list. You’ll find all kinds of details about what your potential future boss would consider an ideal candidate – from personality traits and work style (i.e., proactive or independent) to specific knowledge or skills (i.e., understanding of CRM databases or familiarity with MATLAB) – they’ll generally also choose a certain number of years in the field based on expertise level they’re seeking. But most of the time, it’s more of a “nice to have” than a “must have” point.

But, if you’re able to convey your knowledge in a way that makes it easy for a prospective employer to see how your unique abilities would complement their needs, you stand a decent chance of surviving this initial test. SO, that means for you: if you meet 80% of the requirements listed, don’t overthink it, just apply.

Not quite there? That’s OK, too. If it’s something you’re really excited about, and you realistically think you can handle the job, give it a shot. But don’t forget to write a customized cover letter, update your resume, and use your network to get in touch with people who work at the company you’re pursuing – or call us 😉 .

Internships, projects you completed while earning your degree, or jobs where you were charged with similar responsibilities ALL count—especially if you’re targeting entry-level opportunities. It’s really pretty simple: If it’s in the description and you’ve dealt with it in some capacity, be sure to include whatever “it” is on your resume.

At the end of the day, whether or not you qualify is more about the full package you offer, not some period of time.

Most hiring managers are going to be way more excited about an applicant with a clear passion and demonstrated exposure to some of the key elements of the role they’re trying to fill than a candidate who has the exact number of years they decided to include on the listing. Don’t let the fact that you don’t meet every single criterion in a job description hold you back.

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