As a college freshman I planned to become a full-time writer after graduation. After a couple of editorial internships I quickly learned that a writer’s salary would barely cover NYC rent, let alone occasional vacations or dinners out.
So, I turned to a higher-paid, more technical career path that still allowed me to use my creative side: marketing analytics.
Like many job hunters, I didn’t have any relevant experience when I decided to pivot my career. So, how did I make the switch?
- To start my transition, I took an academic class on database design.
- Using skills from my class, I attended hackathons and built data-related web apps.
- I added a Projects section to my resume listing my class projects and web apps.
- Even though I lacked official work experience, I used my Projects section to land an analytics internship at a startup.
- Based on my Projects and internship, I landed a full-time, marketing analytics job offer at an award-winning company.
Whether you’re trying to switch careers, looking for your first job, or just want to supplement your “official” work experience, one of the fastest and simplest ways to overcome lack of experience is by adding a Projects section to your resume.
A Projects section shows employers that:
- You’re a self-starter who doesn’t need extensive (and expensive) supervision to learn new skills.
- You already have those useful skills!
Projects demonstrate your skills much more effectively than just listing them.
If you claim that you know HTML, but you have no proof to back it up, that skill looks like filler. If you share a link to a website you made, BAM! Impressed hiring manager.
You may already have more “unofficial” experience than you think:
- Volunteer work in your field (e.g. social media marketing for a nonprofit)
- Websites, hackathon projects, or anything you can share on GitHub
- Published work—whitepapers, Medium articles, research, your blog (if it’s related to your job search)
- Continued education—MOOC’s, online courses, General Assembly classes
- A creative portfolio—of photography, art, or graphic design
- Informal internships or job shadowing
- Presentations you’ve given or workshops you’ve organized
One of the things I love best about Projects is that you can create them immediately. Starting today, you can write and publish a high quality Medium article; put together an online portfolio; or offer to run a workshop at your alma mater.
You don’t have to take an unfulfilling, low-paying job to get the job you actually want.
You don’t have to hold off on applying to better jobs until you magically acquire work experience.
When lack of experience prevents you from getting your dream job, create relevant experience for yourself.
Do you have a Projects section in your resume? What kinds of “unofficial” experiences do you list?