Special Issues for Special Circumstances
Candidates can overcome limited experience by learning as much as they can about their target fields and functions. Research is key. It's difficult to take one logistical step back before taking two forward, but this is in many cases the best approach. Take the time you need to create very detailed qualifications summaries and supporting correspondence that show how much you really do know, whether your knowledge comes from on-the-job experience, school, volunteer work, or other means. Use the correct terminology to show your familiarity with the field.
This advice holds true for recent graduates, those preparing for graduation, people in the middle of a big career change, and for undergraduates looking for part-time job internships. Focus on making your resume show how much you do know, and don't worry about what you don't know. Use your academic achievements to represent the experience you've gained in your field. Take the time to write a clear statement of your job objectives. Follow that up with a carefully crafted qualification summary, and you will have created a powerful resume.
If you choose to include your volunteer work with your paid work experiences to save space and make your work history more continuous, make sure to title the section “Experience,” rather than “Employment Background” or “Professional Experience.”
Resumes for recent graduates must clearly project their goal-focused qualifications. If you wish, create and use one multipurpose and several targeted versions of your resume, but don't allow fear of focus to diffuse your goals or strategies. A job search can be frustrating; don't let yourself lose the focus you need to present yourself as a talented, committed employee. Continue to assess your strategies and enhance your competencies when needed. It's amazing how one or two goal-specific courses taken at a local community college, in addition to a subscription to a field-focused professional or trade journal, can ignite a somewhat passive, if not dormant, job-search campaign. Keep track of whom you contact in your job search. Follow up, then follow up again.
People in the under-experienced category of job seekers usually have an excellent record of success, yet they can be the most frustrated and easily overcome by self-doubt. A powerful, targeted resume is a sign to yourself and others that you are engaged in a serious job search. It is powerful as a direct contact tool and as a means of networking. Use it with great pride.