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Do you have experience?

May 4, 2011

By: Tim Augustine, Kent State

The answer is yes!

During a recent seminar, I was asked the question: “How can I sell myself to a future employer if I lack the 2 years of work experience they list on a job posting?” The quick answer is that it depends on the job and the type of experience the employer is looking for.

When employers ask for experience, they are anticipating that your past experiences will translate to future success. They want to know if you will be able to learn the job, adapt to the environment, get along with others and deal with different types of situations.

A recent survey I conducted revealed the most important experience employers are looking for:

Communication skills: Writing ability, presentation abilities and ability to articulate well defined thoughts.

Ability to learn new things: The executives want new hires that can learn quickly in an evolving business world.

Flexible and able to adapt: It is critical that you have the ability to adapt to new situations. Jobs are no longer singular tasks and employers want to hire people that have the ability to do multiple things and be ok with it. “That’s not my job” is no longer acceptable in today’s tough job market.

Multitasking: Have the ability to focus on multiple projects, tasks and activities. There is no better generation that this generation. You grew up with exploding technology such as interactive video games, the internet, texting and immediate communication. 

Organized: Time management skills, follow-through ability and a proven ability to finish tasks, projects and assignments.

Team oriented: Ability to get along with others, deal with conflict and team dynamics and work together to complete a task

Where do these skills and experience come from?

Internships show your ability to work in an office environment which would involve business acumen, maturity, focus and attitude. Internships help students apply the skills and knowledge they already have and allow students to gain ‘hands on’ experience in a work environment.

No matter what job you have, there are aspects that can translate to experience such as teamwork, delegation, communication, time management, follow-through, ability to learn. 

Serving as an officer in any organization you are a member of reveals your ability to lead, motivate, communicate, accomplishment driven, ability to multitask. Additionally, serving as a leader for a class project shows your ability to get things done, apply knowledge to solve a problem, delegation skills.

All of these provide a solid base of experience and can be utilized to position background and meet experience requirements. The next time you read a job description or posting that calls for work experience, try to analyze the type of experience the employer might be looking for and apply your background to it.

About the Author: Augustine is a nationally acclaimed author and professional speaker focused on career development and corporate people strategies. He is the author of  “How Hard Are You Knocking?” and has been featured on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC and reviewed in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and The Chicago Tribune. To learn more about Tim, his books and seminars series, please visit or contact him directly at 734-786-7162.

One Comment leave one →
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