Strategies for Getting that Job

No Experience? No Problem
by Sacha Cohen
Monster Contributing Writer


(This article from the big Jobs website stresses non-IQ skills. The first two points relate to Ambition, the next two relate to Social Skills.)

Be passionate.
Clearly demonstrate -- with a portfolio, through excellent references or in an interview -- that you can do the job, that you're willing to learn and that you really want the job. Convey your passion for the industry and don't underestimate the power of enthusiasm.

Sure, employers are looking for qualified, skilled applicants, but they also want to know that you love what you do, that you're willing to grow as the job demands and that you have the aptitude to take on additional responsibility.

Take the initiative.
Active networking and following up on any leads that come your way can have a big payoff. It's not enough to simply send out resumes and sit back waiting for a response. Take the initiative and call the hiring manager to follow up.

Also, if you are turned down, ask why you were not hired or interviewed. This can give you a better sense of the areas you need to work on. Perhaps your resume is not clearly reflecting your skills. Have several friends or colleagues look at your resume to get objective feedback. Also, in your cover letter, emphasize your skills and your potential, not your lack of experience.

Show your soft side.
Don't forget the importance of "soft skills" such as team building, leadership and customer service. Show that you have more to offer than computer skills or a CS degree. Convey your best personality traits as well. Demonstrate your communication and people skills.

Have you worked effectively with a team or on a group project? Don't forget to mention your specific accomplishments in an interview. Employers are just as concerned with how you'll fit into the corporate culture as they are about your understanding of Cold Fusion or Visual Basic. Leading Edge Corporation, for example, offers seminars to improve business and personal communication.

Build rapport.
Through the HR department or the company's Web site, find the names of some of the hiring managers or internal recruiters. If you can contact a person directly, instead of sending blanket resumes to a company, your chances of getting in the door are better.

For example, when I graduated from school (lo, those many years ago), I spent hours at the library researching my dream companies. Then I wrote personalized letters to several key people at those companies. A little extra effort to make a person-to-person connection will help you stand out from other applicants and push you closer to an interview.

Know the industry inside and out.
Can you talk intelligently about the company's major strategic goals, business partners, vision and key competitors? If not, you haven't done enough research. What does Hoover's say about the company? What about news items in Inc., Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal? Can you discuss the industry as a whole? What's driving the industry and key players within that industry?

Almost everyone has had this frustrating experience at one time or another: You're a recent graduate or career changer trying to get your foot in the door, but all you keep hearing is "Sorry, you need more experience." And you think to yourself, "How the heck can I get experience if no one will hire me?"

That question, along with "What's in Spam?" and "How did Howie Mandel get his own talk show?" is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

In the IT and tech fields, this problem is all the more daunting since there are so many qualified applicants vying for jobs. But before you give up and resign yourself to a career as a coffee jerk (not that there's anything wrong with that), try the putting some of these strategies to use.

Go to: Research findings on what leads to career success

Go to: Workplace skills of men vs women

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