It is still true in today’s economy that if you have graduated without one, ideally two, internships that your likelihood of getting a good job, quickly, is much, much lower. According to Forbes, “66% of employers view interview performance and relevant experience” as the most critical factors in making a hiring decision. So what should you do if you’ve graduated and your resume is seriously lacking in pertinent experience? Here are 5 tips for getting hired with no internship experience.
1. First, take a hard look at your past experience, whether it’s jobs, volunteer work, leadership roles, college athletics, club participation and mine it for marketable skills that would be useful in the workplace. Mowed lawns for a landscaping company in the summers? Sell your work ethic. Camp counselor? Chances are that you have developed great teamwork and leadership skills. Student tutor? To be a good tutor, you need patience, listening and communication skills. Waited tables? If you were any good at it, you clearly learned customer service and organizational skills. Washed dishes in a restaurant? You aren’t afraid to dig in and roll up your sleeves.
2. If you are still short on experience, volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to help an organization in your community and build both skills and potential references. While it doesn’t pay, you’ll likely find that you get more back in terms of fulfillment than the time you donate. You may also learn new skills that you are good at that you can use not only on your resume and in your interviews, but also in your next job.
3. Learn how to sell yourself. An interview is an opportunity to demonstrate your skills, talents and genuine interest in the role and the company. Make sure that you have practiced interviewing and have a great answer to the inevitable question: “So why should we hire you?” My motto when I was hiring at the Fortune 500 company where I worked was “Hire for attitude, train for aptitude.” It was far easier to teach a new hire the in’s and out’s of the position than it ever was to create a “can do” attitude. During the interview, be engaged, positive, know your strengths and be able to communicate how you can help the company.
4. Offer to work for free. Give the company two weeks of your time for free or offer them a money back guarantee. They may not be able to take you up on it legally, but if they do, go to work every day and give it 200% of your best effort. Remember that when you start a new job, every day is essentially a continuation of your interview. Show up early, stay late, volunteer to do anything that needs to be done, especially the boring, mundane jobs that no one wants to do. You’ll be demonstrating just how much you want the job.
5. Consider working for a temp agency. Temp agencies often have great relationships with the best employers in the market. Many companies no longer hire recent college graduates for full-time positions but rather use “temp to hire” positions where they get to see how you perform before committing. Getting in to a great company, even if it’s not the perfect job or is a temporary position, gets you in the door. Once in, you can demonstrate your value. Another plus is you’ll have access to the company’s internal job postings. Over my career, we hired a ton of temporary workers into permanent positions.
Above all else, focus on getting a job, even if it’s not your ideal job. Getting started on your career quickly is more important than waiting for the perfect job. That said, don’t take a job that you know you’ll hate from day one. Still, chances are that your ideal job today will be something radically different ten years from now. When I graduated, I thought I wanted to work in banking. I couldn’t have been more off the mark.
So whatever you do, the best advice that I can give you is to start your career. Only then can you move onward and hopefully, upward.