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Landing An Interview Without Exact Experience

Posted by Tami Riggs

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May 18, 2023 2:00:00 PM

Law or Business Job Interview

Landing An Interview Without Exact Experience

You may have portable skills that you can highlight when applying for any new job, even if it is in a different industry. Skills that you acquire in one position can often be applied and valued in a different position with similar responsibilities. How you interpret your experience, the results, and what was learned in prior roles can help a potential new employer see the value in you as an employee. It is up to you to show that your skills are a match for the advertised opening.

Lacking exact experience is not always viewed as a drawback, and previous experience does not always correlate with new hire success. Entry-level talent and those newly qualified in a profession may have other skills that can be adapted and molded to meet the specified needs of a role. These individuals are more likely to embrace learning new things, embody the work culture, and commit to established practices – which is highly desirable to many hiring managers. While candidates with specific experience are often seen as able to step in and contribute immediately, they may not always have a distinct advantage, especially if they bring outdated approaches, undesirable attitudes, or inefficient habits to the workplace. Beyond academic requirements, when it comes to hiring, many organizations believe a strong personality, ambition, and transferable skills are equally important.

Don’t immediately consider a position out of reach if you can parlay baseline experience, education, competencies, and talents to the desired outcomes. Carefully review the job description and candidate profile. If you have comparable time and service in a related position, have the necessary skills to perform the job (or can quickly learn the necessary skills), and have 75-80% of what is desired - APPLY! Remember a job posting is a combination of essential and desired qualifications. Years of relevant experience do not always correlate directly with superior performance. Translate the practical knowledge you do have into clearly defined abilities.

Assess your qualifications and how they might align with the requirements for the position. A hiring manager might not be able to negotiate on some things listed as absolute, such as having a degree or being bi-lingual. However, there could be flexibility on the educational and experience pre-requisite if your technical, job-specific skill set, and expertise closely align. For example: If the job announcement states: "Criminal Justice Degree Required" and you have no college - but have worked 10 years as a Deputy Sheriff, the college requirement may be waived. In general, the larger the organization, the more likely it is to have rigid processes for evaluating applications. There is always a chance that your application may get rejected with automated filtering associated with some job portals. But, on a manual review of your resume, a hiring manager may give you an interview opportunity.

When measuring the gap between what is listed as a must-have and a nice-to-have focus on your transferrable skills and how you can contribute. Show how your background and work history connect to the position and then pitch toward the strengths and attributes that demonstrate you can do the job, handle the responsibilities, and contribute to the organization.

Identify what crucial soft and hard skills are required. Hard skills are usually industry specific and include abilities acquired or enhanced through training, education, or experience. Soft skills are not technical in nature. These behaviors are learned, developed, and practiced in many professional settings and interactions. It is always appropriate to bullet hard and soft skills in the Skills Section of a resume. To make them relevant and impactful, consider expanding on these skills in the job duties of the Employment Section narrative. This is a place to underpin all competencies with details that will further illustrate how you managed your previous roles and workload.

Highly desired hard skills that are transferrable across professions include:

  1. a solid grasp of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and the ability to produce polished materials e.g., email correspondence, documents, reports, and presentations
  2. typing and computer proficiency
  3. fluency in more than one language
  4. case management and filing
  5. data collection, data analysis, and database management
  6. knowledge of sales, customer service, and advertising
  7. payment processing and billing
  8. the ability to coordinate work processes or the work of others
  9. scheduling, planning, forecasting, budgeting, and finance
  10. hiring, training, and office administration

Many soft skills are also transferable across industries. Consider the following:

  • Did you take the initiative to pursue new tasks, contribute ideas, or produce error-free, high-quality work? - This can be used to demonstrate commitment, self-motivation, and goal setting.
  • Did any of your positions involve working with other people or diffusing difficult situations? This can be used to demonstrate collaboration, teamwork, conflict resolution, and your ability to build relationships with clients and colleagues.
  • Did you ask questions or give input to move tasks or assignments forward? This can be used to demonstrate communication and collaboration.
  • Did any prior roles require you to analyze situations, predict possible outcomes, come up with solutions, or take actions within an efficient time frame? This can be used to demonstrate problem-solving, critical thinking, and responsiveness.
  • Did you come to work on time, meet deadlines and goals, and follow instructions? This can be used to demonstrate punctuality, dependability, time management, and prioritization.

To land an interview without exact experience you must be able to connect the dots between your specific skills and work history and the qualifications needed to perform in the job advertised. If you have excelled in roles with similar responsibilities and hiring managers can see that you will be able to support their goals and execute the required duties, it will increase your chances of getting a call. 

Center for Advanced Legal Studies is dedicated to supporting its students before, during, and after their enrollment. Every paralegal student preparing to graduate, who is in good standing, is provided with career services and job search assistance opportunities in traditional and non-traditional markets. Contact us today at www.paralegal.edu to learn more about our programs and upcoming class start dates.

Tami Riggs 125px Tami Riggs
Director of Outreach and Career Services

Tami has an extensive and varied professional background that spans criminal justice, paralegal education, and international school marketing and communication. Her career has been guided by a focus on developing strategic partnerships that facilitate school growth and student opportunity. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University.

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