My resume is very unhappy
June 25, 2008 4:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I mitigate my lack of experience when searching for jobs?

I just graduated last month with an oh-so-practical degree in English and music. Even worse is that I have next to no job experience. I didn't work while at college, and so now all I really have to show is a couple summers of being a camp counselor and some miscellaneous short-term volunteering.

So yes, I was dumb to not get work experience or find an internship when I had the chance, but what should I do about it now?

Academically I did quite well -- high GPA, summa cum laude, various awards, etc. -- but in looking for jobs the requirements seem slanted much more towards practical experience than good grades. I'm not sure how to get an interview when I'm not suited for much of anything on paper. Any advice? I'm not picky about fields at this point.
posted by danb to Work & Money (9 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
How good are your proofreading skills? Can you type well? Have you studied fundamentals well enough to tutor, English or music? Considered teaching?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:41 PM on June 25, 2008

Network. People look at experience as proof that you can do certain tasks and fit in to a specific environment. If you can convince someone that you're a responsible person who'd be a great fit in by meeting them in person, it goes a long way.

Or temp-that's what I ended up doing (I fulfilled my work-study working as a barista instead of gunning for a cushy office job because I liked the early mornings, and I was an idiot).
posted by dinty_moore at 4:48 PM on June 25, 2008

First, try getting a temp or intern job. I found out that the government of my county had a temp program, with a job in exactly what I wanted to do. It might not work out, but it's worth a shot.

Furthermore, try creating a functional resume. This resume is better for someone who's recently graduated and doesn't have a lot of experience.
posted by stoneegg21 at 4:54 PM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

plus one on 'networking'. i'd contact alumni or have lunch with friends at their place of work. tell them you're interested in learning about their industry/position before selecting a field. you should probably select your industry quickly. focus on it, learn about the current happenings, what brings success or makes an impact in that industry, etc.

i vote for internship over temp job. internship have an instructional aspect -- the company may even be using the internship to train future employees.

i'd also stay away from technical fields as without the nuts and bolts your common sense, resourcefulness, and work ethic can't make an impact.
posted by maulik at 5:10 PM on June 25, 2008

Temp at one of the local universities. I temped at a university for a while, and got offered jobs a few times before I parlayed it into a pretty decent job; many departments hire temps as sort of a "working interview." You meet a lot of people in the academic world, and by rubbing up against them, you can glean a lot of information about not only the fields they study, but also what options there are in the working world, generally by having a fly-on-the-wall view of how a department is run but also by asking people questions. People love to be asked about things which they know (this site being a prime example of that). And the networking thing, too--it puts you in touch with lots of people who have "titles" and can write you a letter of recommendation if you shine for them (if it's a temp assignment you care about in a field you're interested in, especially). To this, having an English degree is a very good start, because it tells prospective employers that you have the ability to analyze text and communicate effectively.

Spherion does all the temping for Harvard. Look around to see who covers temps for MIT, Tufts, etc. (They may have inside temp agencies, as Harvard once did.)

Good luck!
posted by not_on_display at 5:50 PM on June 25, 2008

My advice is to make sure you are pitching yourself for the right jobs. If you see the words 'entry level' they can't really expect the candidates to have much, if any, experience.
posted by calitocarolina at 6:13 PM on June 25, 2008

Do you have a list of relevant skills on your resume? Software you know how to use, languages, other knowledge that may be useful for jobs you're applying to - put them on.

Example: as an engineer, I usually list the software I can use - CAD packages, math software, stuff like that; metalworking ability; speaks German. Careful with the qualifiers you use, though; saying "fluent in German" pretty much guarantees one of your interviewers will know the language and start speaking to you in it.

The important thing is, I think, to show real-world experience. You studied music theory? Great. You've worked with professional recording software and play three instruments? Better.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:15 PM on June 25, 2008

Seconding/thirding the functional resume approach - emphasize your skills by putting them closer to the top. The unusual format seems to catch peoples' attention, too, in a good way.
posted by estherbester at 8:36 PM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: In case anyone was waiting for a followup:

As it turns out, I never had time to take anyone's advice (though it was much appreciated!). The day after I posted this thread I got an interview, and then another a couple of days later, and then another. Fast forward a month or two, and suddenly I'm starting my new job on Monday. Woo!
posted by danb at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2008

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