If you are just starting in your career or looking to change positions or industries, you may feel limited by a lack of experience. However, every professional has been in the same position at some point in their career. If you approach your job hunt with the right strategy, you can use your relevant skills and abilities to show employers you are the right candidate for a job, no matter how much experience you have.
Whether you are fresh out of college or looking to transfer industries, here are some relevant tips to help you get a job.
Establish your motivation
Without relevant job experience, you must convince your future employer that you can be a great addition to their company. Be specific when explaining why this job appeals to you. You can highlight the traits and qualities that you think can help you perform well at work. For instance, if you applied for a secretarial or administrative job, make sure to mention how organized you can be and how keen you are on details. By focusing on what you can do instead of what you don’t have, you can show your future bosses that you can meet the demands of the job that you are applying for.
Highlight your transferable experience
If you are changing careers, you can use the work experience you have to show your potential to succeed in this new role. The best way to approach this is to frame that work experience in a way that is more relevant to what you want to do. Look for the transferable skills that you have developed in your previous career or experiences and emphasize those on your resume.
For example, if you currently work as a barista but would like to switch to bartending, you have a lot of transferable skills, including customer service, following recipes to create beverages and keeping the workspace clean and compliant with health and safety codes. Even if your current job is not very closely related to the career you want, there will likely be a few skills or job duties that overlap.
Build your network
To get your foot in the door of your future employer, you need to leverage on the connections you have. In any industry, networking plays an important part when looking for a job. Reach out to your peers or previous colleagues who work at your chosen company. Politely ask them if they can give you advice on how you can become a stronger candidate. Never ask them for a job recommendation and focus instead on learning more about what the job entails. These informational interviews can help you establish a more comprehensive network with real connections in the industry.
Work on your soft skills
Another way to make yourself relevant to the company is to highlight your soft skills. Assess your core competencies or capabilities and relate them with your desired industry. Some of the soft skills that you can feature are:
- Critical thinking
- Communication skills
- Positive attitude
- Work ethic
- Problem-solving skills
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Interpersonal skills
- Adaptability or flexibility
If you have little to no experience for the job you’re trying to get, think about the extracurricular activities you did in college and use that to demonstrate your skills.
Focus on the areas or skills that you lack
To secure the position, you need to address and focus on the experience you lack. Be willing to take free internship positions, related part-time jobs, or volunteer work. Never be afraid to start from scratch. Remember that every professional started from the same situation that you are in right now.
Ace the interview
To make yourself stand out from the competition, you need to exert every effort to ace your job interview. Do your research correctly and practice answering the most common questions. Be on time and make sure to act professionally during your interview. Write a convincing cover letter and create a strong resume. You can check online on how to craft a great resume. In addition, you can make your resume more meaningful by searching for informational tools such as “applying for a job? These are some of the safety training certificates your employer wants in your resume.”
Take lower-paid or unpaid opportunities
One way to get the career you want is to work your way up from the bottom. Find an entry-level position or even an internship and build your experience from there. It might not pay as well as you would like, but it will give you some critical work experience to put on your resume.
If you can’t afford to take a pay cut or work in an unpaid internship position, try to find something part-time or flexible enough to allow you to earn the income you need from another job while gaining the experience you need from this lower-paid or unpaid opportunity. Working two jobs may feel like a lot, but taking on the extra workload now will pay off over time as you can show some real work experience when you apply for better-paying jobs.
Do it on your own
For many careers, especially creative ones, you can prove you are capable of the work by coming up with side projects on your own. If you want to be a writer, set up a free website and start posting your writing to it. If you want to work in marketing, develop a strategy to promote yourself through social media and digital marketing. If you want to work in carpentry, start crafting some pieces in your garage.
Coming up with your own projects will not only demonstrate that you have the skills required to do the work you want to pursue, but it also shows an incredible amount of initiative. It tells employers that you are so passionate about this work that you spend your free time doing it.
Go back to school
If the career you want is completely unrelated to what you are currently doing, consider going back to school for it. While strong credentials aren’t a substitute for work experience, they still signal to employers that you have demonstrated interest and potential. They will be more likely to take a risk on an entry-level candidate if you can show them a strong educational background.
Here are a few other advantages of going back to school:
- Networking: The professors teaching classes in the field you want to work in will usually have some professional connections. Stay after class and attend office hours to build relationships with your professors and ask for their help in connecting you with potential employers.
- Internships and training: Many degree programs, especially those designed to prepare you for a professional career, include or at least offer internships or hands-on practical training. If it isn’t built into the curriculum of your program, you can speak to your advisor to find out what opportunities they offer.
- Career resources: Your professors, advisors and other staff in your department can all help you figure out your options, plan your career and prepare for your job search. More importantly, they will be able to give you advice that is industry-specific and based on their knowledge of your unique situation and qualifications.
- References: Professors can be great references to list on your resume. They will be able to frame your educational achievements and skills in a way that employers in your industry will be impressed with. Just make sure to ask your professors first before you list them as references.
Ask for feedback
If you find that you are getting interviews but aren’t getting hired, reach out to the employers who interviewed you for feedback. Do this by sending a friendly email asking for their honest feedback regarding your application. This is a great way to learn more about what tweaks you can make to your resume and what you can do to improve your overall performance in the interview. Just note that you should only ask for feedback if you have made it to the interview stage.
Getting a job with no experience can be difficult but certainly not impossible. With the right strategy and attitude, you can show your future employer why you are the ideal candidate for the position.