We all have started our professional life with that most challenging obstacle in front of us, experience.  I think all of us have experienced the challenge of getting experience when every job seems to require it.  This common chicken-or-egg situation is not hopeless.  We can put together a compelling case even when we have minimal experience in specific areas or skills.

Minimal Experience or None At All

When we have limited or zero experience in the desired area, we have to get creative.  Our best chance of winning these positions is through complementary skills.  Remember that most IT positions are aimed at solving problems.  When you dig into the problem to be solved, you can find some options for getting there with different experiences. 

For example, an entry-level PHP job may involve building a web application.  In that case, you can highlight HTML, CSS, or Javascript skills as a way to be productive while mastering PHP.  This situation is common, so make sure to highlight skills that are used across several platforms, including database work, web applications, mobile applications, and industry exposure.  An exact fit is not always feasible or even the best fit for a position.  Sometimes thinking outside of the box will allow for the best person for a job.

Detailing Your Experience

When you start your career or with new technology, experience may be thin.  It is ok to take a class you attended or side project you worked on and include it in your resume.  You also can add detail to make a little experience more appealing.  Rather than a short line item that you worked on a project using technology X, provide information on the problem(s) you solved.  You can get too far in the weeds.  However, if you give a short description of the project and how you used the technology, it can be impressive.  You might even be able to show a better grasp of utilizing the technology than someone with more experience.  A little selling never hurts.

Avoid Dishonesty

Above all, do not put in details or experience that you do not have.  This path is most alluring when we think we lack experience.  However, it is never good to use dishonesty to win a job or project.  You are more likely to fail and generally be unhappy along with the risk of being seen as untrustworthy.  That is a lose-lose situation every time.  If nothing else, the challenge of selling your resume when it is thin is an excellent learning experience.  That can be a huge benefit when you get to a point where your resume is full of rich experience.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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