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Ways the Inexperienced Get Hired

By day, he works for the IT department of a local medical center. By night, he labors on the graveyard shift fixing equipment for a photo finishing plant.

His heart--and his future--lies with his day job. He has studied and paid his way through certifications to become a networking professional. But he has not yet been able to secure the kind of position he feels he is trained to do.

So Pat pays the bills with his second job--- a job he detests. For right now, he sees no other way until he can somehow get the experience he needs to do what he loves for a living.

It is a cruel paradox: Pat wants an IT job to get experience. But he cannot get a job until he has experience.

He has tried everything. He looks in the newspaper and on the Internet. He religiously attends every job fair. His resume has been sent everywhere he can think of to send it. But without being able to say he has experience, Pat feels that no one will hire him.

Pat does not have to live this way. No inexperienced professional needs to work under the assumption that a lack of paid experience will hold him or her back from being hired.

There is no doubt that experience opens doors to opportunities easier than to one without it. But even the inexperienced have options available to them that make securing that coveted job easier to do. All that is needed is a way of communicating how those new, inexperienced skills can add value to a potential employer.

~ Become A Conspiracy Theorist ~

The greatest skill a professional in any industry can gain is the ability to ask questions. For the job seeker, the ability to seek out and obtain information is vital to success. Before even asking or applying for a job, a job seeker needs to become a detective and a conspiracy theorist. Good decisions cannot be made without first having good information.

The trap many job seekers fall in to is asking the wrong questions of the wrong people. Most people first ask complete strangers for information, or --worse yet, for a job. This is like walking the streets looking down at the sidewalk for $100 dollar bills. It's possible to find a job this way but not as likely if you go about it another way.

The questions job seekers need to ask are first created in their own minds. For example, when attending a job fair, the job seeker needs to question why the recruiting companies are there. Job fairs are attended by only two types of companies- those that are desperate for people and those that don't want to be desperate for people. Knowing which category a given company falls into can be a real benefit to the job seeker that takes the time to ask questions and find out.

The ultimate information that a job seeker is searching for is why a company is hiring and what specific needs they have. If a job seeker can ascertain this information prior to a job interview they stand a much better chance at success.

~ Who Says You Don't Have Experience? ~

Researching companies often provides a job seeker with the motivation to take action. If the job seeker has identified a need within a company they must find a way to communicate their ability to meet that need.

Yet many job seekers operate under the mistaken assumption that only experience within an industry is the exclusive indicator of their ability to a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, I have plenty of expertise in driving a car but I have no experience parking cars for a living. Does that mean I can't get a job parking cars? If I can explain how my expertise is relevant to the job my lack of industry experience becomes less of an issue.

This is done through an exercise called PARs. The acronym stands for Problem-Action-Results and it is used to illustrate specifically how skills a job seeker possesses applies to solving a problem for a potential employer.

Let's take Pat for example. In his night job, Pat sometimes is called upon to support the company network. It is not in his official title or job description. But everyone there knows that Pat has training in this area and he is a go-to guy when problems arise.

In a job interview situation, Pat can say something like this: " We had a critical deadline on a Saturday night that required us to deliver on a Sunday morning. None of the IT guys were around or even available because it was a holiday weekend. When the network failed, I was able to restore usage after only 7 minutes of downtime and our customer never knew we had a problem."

An impact statement like this can go much further than merely stating the fact that training courses have been completed and certifications have been obtained. Even if a jobseeker cannot claim to have been paid to perform a specific skill previously they can demonstrate the ways they have used their skills unofficially. These real-world experiences go a long way in communicating not only knowledge of the job but potential in executing what the job may require.

Job seekers that do use PARs create memorable interviews. Being more memorable will lead to more job offers.

~ Recipe for Success ~

Having "no experience" is not necessarily a liability. Many companies hire trained personnel with no experience because they do not want to inherit bad habits instilled by other companies. At a job fair, these companies are often the ones that are hiring for the future.

The companies there that hire to fill an immediate need often run into job seekers that are desperate for work. This is a recipe for disaster. Both parties in this case are taking a big risk by perhaps settling for less for the sake of filling a hole. Such arrangements rarely work out.

For job seekers like Pat Fox, the future lies in communicating good skills and ability to an employer. If he has done his homework, the job he wants is there for the taking.

-- Jeff Westover is an Internet Content Developer based in Salt Lake City. He has 15 years of executive level experience in personnel and project management. Jeff writes for myjobsearch.com, publishers of the largest independent directory of online career resources.

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