When the job market is limited, how do you get yourself noticed? Even though you have the education, you may not have a lot of hands-on experience, but don’t focus on that. Instead, get creative with the experience you do have.
If your resume’s looking sparse then put your imagination to work. Include scholastic awards and personal achievements that are unique to you. Describe stretch assignments, internships, and volunteer activities from college or graduate school if they’re related to your field. Describe them as achievements that can be highlighted on your resume. Be picky about what you share and talk up the experiences that mattered most.
Focus on the bottom line
When describing past positions, you don’t want to sound vague. You may have “provided excellent customer service” at a past job, but what does that mean? Be specific. In what ways did you problem solve, or by how much did you increase sales?
Claim hidden accomplishments
Even though your summer part-time job may not have been in your field, you gained experience and transferable skills. Did your manager give you extra responsibilities? Were you the employee of the month? Anything that sets you apart, weave in.
Tailor your cover letter
Carefully consider what each job requires, and alter your cover letter depending on the position and the skills needed. Consider who your employer is. What you write for a government agency will be different from what you write for a corporation or nonprofit.
Get over stage fright
Before the interview, role play with a friend. Ask her to give you challenging questions and practice stating your achievements confidently. Even if you don’t feel that way, act as if you do. As you step out boldly, you’ll realize you can overcome greater obstacles and go for bigger jobs.
Don’t be afraid to ask if your interviewer has any reservations about your suitability for the job. Be prepared to ease any fears there may be, especially if it has to do with your inexperience. Remind him of your credentials, work ethic, and past accomplishments.
Leave a lasting impression
Read your interviewer. If he seems receptive, share a personal story as you describe your experience—one that is relatable and will leave a lasting impression. No matter how you feel the interview went, always exit with a firm handshake, a smile, and a thank you.