5 Ways to Look Less Inexperienced When You’re Fresh Out of School
Post-grad job searches seem to only get tougher. We’ve heard it again and again: that everyone today has post-secondary education, so a Bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees you a job. It’s been said that up to 60% of US college grads can’t find a job in their field of study.
So how do you stand out from the crowd as a new graduate? If you’re looking for work in the nonprofit sector, you need to show hiring managers that you can hit the ground running. The problem is, as a new graduate, you’re likely inexperienced, meaning that it might look like you need hand-holding in a new job.
Instead, impress even without years of experience by looking like a qualified, competent candidate, and follow these five tips:
1. Use Specific Examples
In job applications, on LinkedIn, and in interviews, use specific examples instead of just talking about general skills. When you don’t have stories to draw on showing the application of your knowledge and skills, you make yourself look more inexperienced. Even if the example doesn’t seem impressive to you, having a story to tell backs up your claims about your abilities. Don’t just say you have problem-solving skills; show it by telling them about a time that you stepped up to solve a complex issue.
2. Get Involved
If it’s not too late and you’re still in school: get involved. Join extracurriculars and clubs, or take on additional responsibilities in your classes. Or, start giving back in the community and become a volunteer. Volunteering and community involvement are great ways to make connections in the nonprofit sector, and to communicate to prospective nonprofit employers that you’re committed to the work.
Doing something besides academics means that you’ll have more “real world” experiences to draw on when job hunting. A story about managing multiple deadlines while editing the school paper is more impressive to a hiring manager than an anecdote about a theoretical research essay.
3. Do Your Research
One way to show your inexperience is by not knowing what roles you’re qualified for. Applying for everything and anything, and not being able to articulate why you want a particular job will just communicate to a hiring manager that you don’t know what you’re talking about and are desperate for any job you can get. Research the nonprofit sector, the organizations you’re applying to, and make sure that you can speak to the types of opportunities you want. (For more help, check out Karma Careers.)
4. Draw Connections
Have an elevator speech prepared that concisely communicates exactly what you did in school – and make it in layman’s terms, not academic jargon. Intentionally draw connections between what you did in school and what you want to do for work. Don’t assume hiring managers understand what your degree means, and if you need to, explain it a little bit on your resume or cover letter.
5. Be Prepared
A tell-tale way to look inexperienced is to send the same resume and cover letter to every opening you see. Take the time to tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. Also, make sure to practice and prepare for interviews, and think of some meaningful questions to ask the interviewer. Showing up with an attitude of genuine interest and curiosity will go a long way.