Overcoming A Lack of Experience

interviews no experience Mar 31, 2022

No experience? Are you screwed?

Let's cover that in this video today. So I had one of my VIP students write in and ask as follows:

“Hey, Stuart I have an interview coming up with the CFO of the company. And they're asking me for 2-4 years of experience in the job description. What should I do? Because I don't have full-time experience.”

This is that classic “how do I get experience if I don’t have it” situation. And in this video, I am going to solve that for you. 

Invited to interview - and feeling you lack experience

So this individual in our program got invited to interview. First of all, what does that mean? It means this: 

“If granted a chance to interview, you already have what it takes to get the job.”

You already have what it takes. So if you're sitting there with that interview coming up and you're concerned about your experience, recognize that that is not a factor here. They already granted you an interview - They already think you can do the job but they need to confirm it. From here, the only thing that could hold you back is your attitude toward your own experience. If you feel a lack of confidence in your own experience, that can extend to an overall lack of confidence in your presentation. Now that WILL matter. And that could cause you to fail in the interview.

But keep in mind, if you have been granted an interview opportunity and you don't have the required years of experience listed on the job description, recognize that you have in some ways “won” already. You have been granted the opportunity to interview you and in principle have what it takes from the perspective of the employer. So congratulations.

Not yet invited to interview - and feel your lack of experience

Now, how do I address a lack of experience in general? Here, let me peel back the curtain for a moment and explain how job descriptions are designed. 

When firms prepare job descriptions, they want the right talent and want to spend the least amount of time finding it. The result is that they tend to inflate the experience requirement. If you only have half of what is being asked for or even NO EXPERIENCE - definitely apply because these job descriptions are often somewhat inflated.

When they meet the right fit face-to-face, they look for qualities that they can't buy in the market such as confidence or honesty. If you can demonstrate confidence and honesty, for example, you're already bringing things of great value - even if you don't have the experience. In other words, you're going to have a chance of getting the offer even without experience. 

So how do I address a lack of experience? Well, let me just lay it out: a lack of experience can be filled in by research and by branding yourself as a results-oriented person. 

What companies value more than experience 

When companies say they want X years of experience, it really means they just want someone who is results-focused and brings those other qualities money can’t buy. If you’ve never done the exact thing they want, or haven’t worked before, simply by researching the topic you can quickly learn to talk about the results that matter. You can gain certain expertise. If classwork enabled you to complete an analysis or make a recommendation, you have results you can talk about. When you can speak to some results and through research you know a few results that matter to the firm, a lack of experience is not a barrier. In fact, it may even be a plus: you’ve got the raw talent they can train. 

As soon as you embrace results, as soon as you attempt to package yourself as having results, your lack of experience does not matter anymore. 

Go on, give it a try!

So if you're coming into an interview situation, emphasize your results in any past class, project, or experience. 

If you’re applying online, emphasize results in your cover letter and bullet points. Present yourself as somebody who is focused on results and on getting the results that THEY care about, too. For those of you who have done the StuartResume resume training, you know your resume is also about how to convey results. As a graduate of that program, you already have bullet points that feature your results. You’ve gained a sensitivity to results. And now you know how to present and pitch your accomplishments.


You can always rely on research to replace experience. Desktop research counts. Speaking to other professionals in the field is even better. In my VIP Job Offer Coaching, we always start with informational interviews and we complete about 20 of them inside our target firms to get clear on what branding feels right and what results matter for our dream firms. 

Certain phrases you can use to better position yourself without experience.

“Although I have not worked full time in the ABC area specifically, I have been successful in helping accomplish XYZ types of outcomes in the past. For example, I…[give an example].”

“I understand that you are interested in doing DEF now and have previously focused on XYZ. I think I'm in a great position to help you achieve DEF today because of my overall results focus. For example, I have previously helped get results such as MNO” in my past experience / coursework / volunteer work”

The next time you have a concern about your experience, change your mind: decide that you do have valuable experience and that you can build on that via research to become a results-focused person, which is all any firm wants anyway.

That mindset shift alone may be enough to allow you to present confidently and get you hired just on the basis of your confidence. See past those requests for experience to what they really want: people who value results.

Every organization is a sales organization. They're always trying to sell some service or product. Their goal is to solve a problem in the market and generate a return for investors. If it's a nonprofit, same thing. The goal is to generate an impact on the money invested. Here is what this means for you: firms want to see that you are able to sell your stuff - meaning yourself - because you are the most important thing to you.

If you've got the interview now, just focus on that fit and how you've been able to get some results in your own unique way, and how you understand what their focus is and what their intended results are.

If you’re still hoping to get interviews, give the results orientation a try. For full training on how to brand yourself and grasp all of the other big concepts behind a successful job hunt, check out my latest offering, The Job Offer Roadmap.

As a member of my programs, or just casually researching my content, be focused on your branding as someone who is results-focused. If you have absolutely no experience, that’s no problem. No experience is required!  


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