Practical Ways to Use Life Experiences to Land a Job

Some of the best experiences in life come from doing. Whether it’s on the job training, freelance work or charity outreach, its diversity that expands your mind and gives you personal growth. These are key lessons in business that can help propel you to the next level.

My previous article, How Your Life Experiences Can Help You in Business, delivered actionable tips to use in your work life. But what if you could take these same lessons a step further and use them to benefit you in a job interview or to strengthen your resume?

Here’s how:

1. Broaden your horizons locally.

You don’t have to leave your backyard in order to land your dream job. You don’t need to have traveled the world or even have explored the US. If you have, that’s a fantastic added bonus, but if you haven’t, then what can you do to be culturally savvy or to showcase your understanding of different cultures and world events?

Get busy knowing your city. When was the last time you went to a museum, attended a local event or even signed up for a class or Groupon deal? Any given day of the week there are many events to help you expand your knowledge, be a part of a community and grow your inner mind.

A common interview question is, “What do you do with your free time?” With an expanded knowledge of local and current events, you can mention a volunteer group you belong to, the class you just took or perhaps your thoughts on the latest museum exhibition. Having a heightened view of culture that goes beyond weekend brunch can make you appealing to employers who are looking for people with an appreciation for local and world events.

… what can you do to be culturally savvy or to showcase your understanding of different cultures and world events?

2. Capitalize on the last word.

The last line of any resume should be something that sets you apart and are clues to the real you. Whether you have skills, achievements or even a fantastic piece of personal trivia, many employers read a resume from the bottom up looking for what makes you pop.

You don’t have to jump out of a plane, but dare to be different and take risks on your resume. Think of all the places where you shine and include your top three. Employers are looking for passionate, curious and well-rounded employees with excellent interpersonal skills and positive personality traits.

It’s expected on a resume that you have computer skills, etc., but what personal nuggets of gold can help you stand out? These are great highlights that extend to an interview. Examples I know of that got attention on a resume: “Never had a drop of caffeine in their life,” “Scuba diver in 20 famous dive locations,” “Helped feed the homeless on Thanksgiving” and “Knows how to solve a Rubix Cube in thirty seconds.”

The list is endless.

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3. Always say yes to the interview.

Interviews are a two-way street. It’s not just the employer asking questions, but you should be feeling out the meeting to see if its a fit for you. By saying yes to as many job prospects as you can, you are gaining skills that could potentially land you a job or allow you to see what interview skills you might be lacking. Just like public speaking or performing for a crowd, job interviews can be nerve wracking and can catch you off guard. So how do you set yourself up for success?

Try to secure an interview that you might deem out of your league — even for a job that’s in a different industry. You might work in real estate marketing, but what if you interviewed for a marketing position at a tech company? You can learn about yourself in ways you never imagined, maybe discovering skills that you never knew you had. Interviewing outside of your comfort zone prepares you for higher stakes, allowing you to flex untapped muscles.

4. Focus on creative problem solving.

When prepping for a job interview, always have two examples of how you were able to solve a problem up your sleeve. In almost all interviews an employer will ask troubleshooting questions to see how you handle problems and to view your way of thinking.

Even if you’re fresh out of school and don’t have a lot of work experience, draw on situations where you have solved a problem and came out ahead. Intuition and a strong gut instinct can be more powerful than lots of work experience.

There’s no wrong answer here. By the act of doing, you are achieving. By making choices, you showcase being definitive. Employers embrace people that can think for themselves.

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5. Champion yourself in the interview.

It’s one thing to talk about yourself at an interview, but it’s equally crucial to sell yourself if you want true success. A positive way to showcase your strengths in a meeting is to celebrate what you are good at, but not in an arrogant way. To prepare yourself to win, know the answers to the following questions:

– What are you good at?
– What are three key transferable skills?
– How have you turned your strengths into specific accomplishments?
– What do you do if you don’t know the answer?

In an ever-evolving job market, employers seek out the cream that rises to the top. Sometimes an employer will see how you respond to a question rather than what you actually say.

By inserting life lessons into our careers, we are doing, learning and experiencing. We’re creating room for success.

What’s been the best interview advice you’ve ever received?

Images via Kat Borchart for Darling Issue No. 18

Melinda is the founder of Curated Cool, an online destination where the world of fashion, travel and art come together. Curated Cool offers tips & advice on standing out from the masses, & finding those cool one-of-a-kind pieces. Wanderlust has Melinda flying around the world over 100,000 miles a year. Follow the adventures on social media.

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