Need Experience to Get Experience?

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If you are entering the professional world for the first time or looking to branch into a new career, you may have come across the (somewhat terrifying!) saying “need experience to get experience.”  While experience is a factor in hiring, it is not the only thing employers are focused on. Other factors are involved, and as you set out on your search it’s important to remember the following:

There is no such thing as having “no experience.”

Experience comes in many forms. Skills are transferable, so Hiring Managers are interested in learning about what you have learned and accomplished outside of a traditional workplace. This can include experience gained from community service, school clubs, seasonal jobs, paid or unpaid internship), or any place where universally important skills such as communication, problem solving, organization, and leadership may be gained. So yes, many candidates already have more experience than they may think – and so do you.

Companies will hire based on potential (because it’s beneficial to their long-term strategy)

Potential can rival experience. With entry-level positions, employers know they aren’t going to find a “perfect” candidate who has every hard and soft skill they could ever possibly need or want. Instead, they are looking for candidates who demonstrate a potential for growth. Valuing potential over experience is not only necessary to keep pace with the current hiring climate, it also makes sense from a business standpoint as well.  Studies have shown that hiring on potential leads to higher employee retention rates. In addition, employees who are trained from within the company demonstrate greater drive and performance than hiring on experience alone.

The “ladder” is real and they want employees to climb it.

No matter the job, companies are looking to hire candidates who have long-term growth potential. While they may not be hiring you for a “glamorous” job now, they are hiring with the idea that you can climb the ladder and really go places. From a financial standpoint, companies actually prefer to promote from within since it costs less than mounting an outward search and is far less time-consuming. Companies know that hiring someone for an entry-level position can give someone new to the field an opportunity to further develop their skills, realize their potential, and start taking steps up the ladder.

At the end of the day, don’t let “needing experience to get experience” and your fear that you have no experience cause you to lose out on a chance at an amazing opportunity. You have more to offer than you may think, so send in that resume and take that interview. There is nothing to lose, only something to gain.

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