When you’re in college, advice is coming at you from all different directions and sometimes it can be hard to cut through the ‘noise’ to focus on what’s important. And while GPA, extracurricular activities, and an ePortfolio each have their own merit, the one area recruiting managers and employers are focused on are skills. In fact, they seem to value skills even more than experience, and it’s not hard to see why.
Two Ways Skills Trump Experience
1 – Experience ≠ Quality
Just because you may be light on experience does not mean you have nothing of value to offer a company. The truth is, experience can often be an unreliable indicator of how a job candidate will fit into a role, or if he/she possesses the right skills. Just because someone has worked in an industry for an extended amount of time doesn’t mean he/she was a top performer or made measurable contributions.
2 – Skills are Transferable
Experience can also be a hindrance when trying to match it up with a specific job description. For example, a candidate may have five years of experience in one type of computer design, but the job being applied for is for a different type of computer design. But what can succeed in multiple work environments are your skills. So, skills like communication, attention to detail, adaptability, willingness to learn, etc., are more likely to transfer to any business or industry than specific technical capabilities or experience. And possessing those skills are what will get a recruiter’s attention and hopefully land you a job!
Using Your Skills to Get the Gig
First, start by focusing your search on jobs where your skills will be seen as an asset. Look at the key words being used for direction and be specific with the skills you mention so the interviewer has something to work with and can ask for in-depth questions.
Next, have your elevator pitch practiced and read to go. Keep it to three minutes or less and make sure it includes your skill set, how you’ve applied it, and the outcome. Once you have it nailed down, use it on cover letters, resumes, your ePortfolio, and even LinkedIn. By taking time to prepare, you’ll never be caught off guard when you have a chance to sell yourself to a potential employer.
Even if your skills aren’t listed as part of the job description, use any opportunity you can to talk about them. And always let the other person decide whether or not the information you’re sharing is important.
Share in the comments how a skill has proved more valuable than experience.