As you embark on your job search, there may come a time when you encounter a posting that seems to be your dream job, with a matching description that seems to be made just for you. The only problem is that when you look at the job requirements, it turns out you don’t meet the experience requirements.
Experience requirements make sense. After all, companies want to hire people who have done the same kind of work in the past, which mean less time and money spent on training.
Still, even if you don’t meet a job posting’s requirements to a tee, doesn’t mean you’re out of contention right away. Here’s what you can do to figure out what to do next.
Do You Have Any Experience at All?
If the job description is asking for five years of experience but you only have two, go ahead and apply anyway. Two years is still within reason and should be enough time for you to gain the insights and skills needed for the job. But if a company specifically wants 10 years of experience and you only have one year plus internships, don’t waste your time.
Don’t be afraid to include any volunteer work you’ve done in the past as work experience either. If you’ve done some freelance gigs in the past, be sure to point this out to show employers you have the skills they need.
Prove Your Value
The good news is that more employers are moving away from the idea that work experience is the be-all and end-all of gauging a candidate’s potential value to the company. So, even if you don’t have the required years of experience, you can make up for it with skills and ability to perform.
Taking this option, however, means you have to work doubly hard to prove your value as a potential employee. That can mean putting together a portfolio, collecting certifications, or even offering a case study of how you would solve a particular problem faced by the company.
Work with Someone on the Inside
An endorsement from one of the company’s employees or middle management can work wonders for getting your foot in the door. A referral from someone who can vouch for your skills despite your lack of experience is one of the best ways to put yourself in contention for a role—it can even put you ahead of the competition. If you’re not comfortable asking for a referral, ask employees for tips on what exactly the hiring manager looks for in recruits.
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