Turn Your College Years into Real and Relevant Job Experience

job experienceMany college students and recent grads face the “I don’t have experience” dilemma in their job search. In one recent blog post I included this:

“Most new grads have more experience and skills than they give themselves credit for, and then struggle with turning it into value statements for employers.”

The truth is most grads do have experience. It just may not be in a j-o-b for which they were paid a salary. It could be experience harnessed from any of these:

  • Leadership roles in Greek life, student clubs or academic projects
  • Tutoring or mentoring
  • Babysitting or yard work
  • College athletics
  • Campus work-study programs, summer jobs
  • Paid or unpaid internships, externships or co-ops

After I posted my tweetable, one of my tweeps asked for an example of a value statement. Ah, good question! So today I want to give you “value statement” examples.

Developing Your Value Statement

But first, I want to walk your through a methodology so that you can develop your own. This exercise intends to get you thinking differently about your experience.

Instead of saying “I only mowed lawns, that’s no big deal,” I want you to think about that experience differently. I want you to think about all the skills you had to exhibit in order to do that work. Suspend your judgment about how important it was – or wasn’t. That’s not the point.

The point is, that in order to get that work done, you must have demonstrated some skill.

Now that you are job searching, you take that skill, and turn it into a statement that provides a prospective employer evidence of your competence in that skill. Ideally, it’s a skill they need in the job for which they are hiring. And for which you are a strong candidate.

First, Practice Using This Model:  E –T – H – O – S

To get to your value statement, use this easy to remember formula. We’ll walk through an example. I hope you find this is a little less daunting than you are likely making it out to be.

Value Statements ETHOS

Example: This grad worked on fraternity events in college.

E = Experience

  • Managed fraternity events in college during my junior year

T = Task

  • Coordinated 3 events; largest event was attended by 200

H = How

  • Coordinated a planning team of other members
  • Usually had about 60 days lead time between the time event was announced and when it was held
  • Managed to a budget and timeline; set goals for attendance we expected

O = Outcome

  • All 3 events achieved attendance goals
  • All 3 were within budget
  • Often there were behind the scenes issues, but we were able to handle them without impacting the quality of the event

S = Skills

  • Managing to a deadline (60 days)
  • Managing to a budget (usually $1,000)
  • Balancing multiple priorities: school work, fraternity function, overseeing team’s activities, being on site the night of the events to make sure things went well
  • Had to make decisions with looming deadlines, budget; often didn’t have a lot of time
  • Accountability to others, final product needed to meet the expectation of fraternity community

Okay, now let’s craft a value statement. This is an example of how to talk about your experience in terms that an employer might find valuable:

The work I did managing fraternity events prepared me well for this job. I’ve coordinated three successful events for up to 200 people. Typically I had less than 60 days to make it happen.

I’ve learned how to manage to a deadline, balance multiple priorities to get the job done, and make decisions quickly in a high-pressure situation. Let me give you a couple of specific examples…

In an interview or networking conversation, you could offer a couple of specific examples or stories of how you demonstrated these skills more specifically.

The whole idea here is to give you the chance to turn what you might think is “trivial” into confidence building statements that will help you see the skills you already possess.

You might not have the experience in a specific job. So use value statements like these to show employers how you possess the skills they need.





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!



Lea McLeodAbout the Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.




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