How to Solve "I don't have work experience" Problem (Part 1)

How to Solve "I don't have work experience" Problem
(Part 1)

Written by Thanh Quach @thanhquach

February 28, 2021 (Updated)

(3 minutes read)

“Every employer asks for work experience man, I just graduated and I don’t have work experience. That’s why nobody calls me in for an interview”– said by Reid, a finance college graduate.

“What do you mean, you have been doing all those part-time jobs. You have some experience man” – I replied.

“No, I don’t have any finance-related work experience and that’s what the employer is looking for. Look at this…”

work experience requirement

Ok, this is the 99th time that I hear this complaint.

In this article, I will use my interviewing and hiring experience when I was working at CIBC Mellon to help you answer 2 questions:

  1. Why is it important to understand the “work experience” requirement correctly?
  2. How can we solve the “I don’t have work experience” problem?

Let’s start with the first one.

#1 - Why is it important to understand the "work experience" requirement correctly?

Because this is the biggest misunderstanding that will kill 99% of your job opportunities and this is the #1 reason why it makes you feel stressful and hopeless “Uggrrr…I am not good enough”.  

Let me be clear, “I don’t have work experience” is not your problem. This is just a misunderstanding, which means you just interpret it in a wrong way!

But you might say the job description stated it clearly that candidates need to have “a minimum of 1 year experience”. To that, my answer is “Ignore it”, if you believe it, it doesn’t do you any good and it just kills your confidence.

Look, this is the required qualifications for a fund accountant job from CIBC Mellon, which was my 1st job right after graduation.

work experience requirement

It requires “1 year experience in the financial services sector”, I didn’t have it. Actually, I didn’t have the Canadian Securities Course either. I just “ignore” these 2 requirements and apply, just like when you see the sign “Don’t feed the monkey” at the zoo but somehow you go ahead and feed the monkey anyway.

The truth is if you see 1-2 years experience requirement, please understand that the hiring manager is “flexible”, which means “We are open to fresh graduates, but you need to show us all the skills we need in an attractive manner”.

This means only one thing: you have a chance as a fresh graduate. But I need to make it clear that getting interviews also depends on what you wrote on your resume, which I will explain in a second. Now, I am not the only one who can get interviews with 0 work experience, despite of the job description requirement.

Alice L., a fresh accounting graduate from Seneca College, used to think “I am not good enough” and she found it impossible to satisfy the work experience on the job description.

But, after learning to “ignore it” and re-gaining her confidence, she later got 6 interviews from junior accountant, A/P specialist to pension administrator positions, despite the fact that most of the jobs she applied for requiring 1-2 years of work experience. 

One of her potential employer, an international company called ETG Commodities even requires minimum 2 years accounting working experience.

work experience required

Alice had 0 accounting-related working experience, but she still got an interview.

interview invitation

Thus, the 1st step in our solution is: I would like you to remove the fear of “I don’t have work experience” and be confident that you are good enough for the job and yes, you can do it. Even though the job description clearly states they need 1-2 years of work experience, it doesn’t really mean it, don’t let it scare you away from a great job opportunity.

An exception is, when they require like 3-4 years of work experience, then yes they really need the work experience. When you see anything 2+ years, just don’t waste your time on applying to that job.

Now, back to our story, you might say “Oh I already ignore the work experience and apply but they never call me, so they must see I don’t have work experience”.

To answer this question, we need to move to part 2 which is to solve the “work experience” problem.

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