May 30

Job Interviews and Resumes – How Do You Convey Ability Without Actual Experience?

Are you starting a new career as a new college graduate (or your making the leap to a new field)? In this situation, it can be hard to get job interviews and job offers.

new college grad job search questionThe classic dilemma for career changers and new graduates is this:  
Employers want someone with experience (because they want proven ability), but you can’t have experience unless you’ve had a job.

So how can you show them you have the ability do do the job well when you don’t have actual experience in that job?

This was a question in one of the group coaching calls we have as a part of our Total Access Coaching Club, and I wanted to share the answer with you.

fresh graduate job search answerHere’s the answer:

To convey ability without actual experience, the most important thing you can do is to provide them with a forward-looking document that shows how you would approach the tasks of that job.

You research and fill in your own knowledge gaps about that company and that job. You create a plan of action (even if it can’t possibly be 100% accurate) in as much detail as possible. You go over your plan with the hiring manager (your future boss) in the interview, communicating to them that “this is what I will do in the first 90 days of this job.”

Of course, I’m talking about a 30 60 90 day plan.

When you create and present a 90-day plan, you demonstrate your ability to do the job (even without experience) because you’ll be talking about key pieces of the job in detail. You’ll be answering their questions in-depth, with confidence, because you’ve done the research and critically thought about it.

Through your ability to answer those questions, present that plan of what you can do and show them the insight you already have about this job, you’ll convey your ability to do this job without experience.

This process has gotten many people job offers even when they were competing against very experienced candidates.

(See a great example of how a 30 60 90 day plan shows your value.)

Other Ways to Overcome a Lack of Experience…

  • Job shadowing or ride-along experiences (spending time on the job with people in that role so you can learn from them) 

    Don’t be afraid to job shadow if you’re an adult with other job experience…this can be an amazing opportunity to gain insights and contacts that can help you tremendously.

    Put this experience on your resume. You’ll have great keywords for your new field that catch the attention of companies, and you’ll signal that you are someone willing to go above and beyond to reach your goals. This can absolutely help you get interviews.

  • Self-Training (do everything you can to learn what you need to know about the job before you interview)

    In job interviews (just like anywhere else), knowledge is power. The candidate who’s ‘over-prepared’ has a big advantage over everyone else.

    Here’s what I mean:

    I had a woman who wanted to get into marketing from a sales role but only talked about her sales experience (not marketing) in the interview. In coaching, I told her that because she wanted to be in marketing, start using marketing language in her interviews. One way to pick that up is to go on to YouTube and look for videos on marketing. I counseled her to watch them carefully, listening to marketing vernacular and terminology, learning it and using it in her interviews. In addition, I told her to read some marketing books, and listen to podcasts on marketing.

    That experience made her feel more confident and knowledgeable (and she was), and it reflected in her next interview. It inspires confidence in you from hiring managers.

    No matter what you want to go into, steep yourself in what you want to be, and soon you’ll sound like you’re already there.

    Here’s another example:  

    I knew one gentleman who interviewed for a surgical sales role and failed miserably because he didn’t know the language of surgical sales. He looked around for the best way to educate himself on the subject, and found my 3 hours of audio conferences on medical sales. He listened to it 10 times (that’s 30 hours of study) to absorb the concepts and the terminology of medical sales. When he interviewed with another Top 5 surgical sales company, he got the offer

    He said, “The only thing I changed between the first interview and the second is that I steeped myself in the vernacular, because that was what I really failed in during the first interview.”

    Yes, an extra 30 hours of studying is a lot to do before you even get the job, but without it, you may not get hired.

To support yourself in your efforts to get the job you want:

  1. Use internet tools to steep yourself in the concepts, terminology, and vernacular of your desired career.
  2. Arrange a job shadow.
  3. Bring a forward-looking 30-60-90-day plan.

Career Confidential offers specialized plans that make creating a plan easy.  Click one of the links below to find out more:



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