Valuable Tips To Getting A Job Without Experience – Detailed Guide:
Everyone who starts out in the working world will encounter the dreaded Permission Paradox: you cannot find a job without experience, yet you cannot get any experience without a job. It’s a textbook Catch-22 that’s discouraging and seems almost impossible to overcome. Almost. Our 11 tips for getting a job without experience can help you go from zero to hero in a very reasonable amount of time (job hunting is never quick!).
1. Educate yourself
Take classes, attend workshops, get certificates and diplomas, and if you have to, earn a degree. This will not only help you get the knowledge for the job, but also show your dedication and commitment. Plus: teachers and fellow students are a great way to start and expand your network.
2. Start working (your way up)
Another way to get some experience in a specific area is to work for little or no money – it doesn’t sound particularly motivating, but boy, can it help you get your foot into all kinds of doors: you can volunteer, intern or freelance to get hands-on training. Depending on the career, starting or contributing to a blog might be a good idea to show off your passion and talent. In short: fill up your CV and your portfolio with relevant projects that you pursue part-time, on weekends, or during school breaks.
3. Work the Network
A convenient way to get a job is to be recommended or know a friend of a friend. For that to happen, you need to build and cultivate your network, both online and offline: make sure people know that you are pursuing career xzy – and be ready with an elevator pitch, an updated resume, and a super cool LinkedIn profile, of course.
4. Let’s draw!
It’s time to get out some pens and paper and make a big Venn diagram that can help guide your way to success: List all the skills, experience, and the personal traits needed for your future job. Then, add the skills, experience, and personal traits you already have and see where the two circles overlap. You can use this as a reference to see what you need to improve and what you can highlight in your CV and cover letter.
5. Become an expert in your field
Learn everything there is to know about the industry and the job. This will not only prepare you for the career – it will also help you when networking and interviewing for jobs. To become an expert in your field, interact in forums, read blogs, and join groups both online and offline. Make sure you also know some key names in the business – online and offline; locally, nationally and even internationally.
6. Pick people’s brains
People love to give advice and be seen as a specialist or experts in a certain field. Once you have learned the names of the professionals you admire and who have the career you want, try getting in touch with them – online or if you like the old-school touch, with a handwritten note, for example. A good way to make people feel important and valued is to ask what next steps they recommend you take. Don’t just send out tons of emails with your CV – everyone’s busy, inboxes are full. Always establish a connection before you ask for advice or even favors.
7. Have a good story to tell
Make sure you have a captivating career-starting story that leaves no doubts that you are the perfect person for all kinds of jobs in a particular field. People will ask questions (so many questions!) so prepare clear and concise answers to why you want to enter this field, what you are going to do to reach this goal, and what you have to offer. This is where you impress with your passion, throw in all of the important skills and experiences, top it off with your education and persuade everyone you talk to.
8. Revamp your CV
And while we’re at it: make sure your CV reflects the key parts of this story. Focus on your talents and skills and not just on your job titles: create a CV that doesn’t dwell in the past, but looks ahead and showcases all the great things you can contribute to in the future.
9. Focus on the soft skills
Transferable skills can be – surprise! – transferred from one situation or job to another and show how you interact with people. Examples of these soft skills are interpersonal skills, organizational skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Focus on your ability to motivate people, multitask, supervise, or speak in public. Create a CV that oozes personality and shows off your soft skills in all their employable glory. If you can show why a certain soft skill will make it easier to learn a particular hard skill, you’ve basically nailed it.
10. Aim reasonably high
Even though you should always aim high when it comes to your career, it’s also important to use common sense when applying for a job. You are a beginner, so look for entry level positions where you know and can show that you can do the job. Make it clear that you know that you are a beginner but are willing to learn – and then add an irresistible amount of enthusiasm, passion, and determination.
11. Patience, grasshopper!
Be patient, and be willing to start at the bottom.Getting your foot – and then the rest of yourself – into the door may take time. It might also be exhausting and seem like a semi-good idea at time, but if it’s what you really want to do and what makes you happy, go for it!
If you’re looking for how to get a job with no experience, you’re in the right place.
While this isn’t easy for most people, you can do it if you follow the right steps.
And I’m going to give you those steps right now in this article. Keep reading for the best ways to find a job without any experience.
How to Get a Job Without Any Work Experience
1. Tailor your resume for each job posting
When you apply for jobs without experience, always look at the job description and try to identify what skills and traits the employer wants.
What’s mentioned first, or most often?
Even without experience… think about courses you’ve taken, projects you’ve completed, internships, volunteering, etc.
And think about how all of this relates to the job you’re applying to. What seems most important on the job description? Leadership? Problem solving? Ability to work without close supervision? Now highlight what they’re looking for in all of your past experience on your resume.
You can do this by reordering items on your resume as well as adding bullets and other content if you notice a gap between what the employer wants and what you mention.
While customizing your resume is going to make a job application take longer, you’ll get more responses.
Would you rather send 100 applications and get 1 response? Or send 20 applications and get 5 responses?
Plus, it doesn’t take as long as it sounds if you use this tailoring method.
Now, if you’re still thinking, “I don’t have any experience to talk about on my resume, so how can I customize my resume to fit the job?” then keep reading. In the next two points, I’ll share more ideas of what to put on your resume.
2. Highlight academic experience as much as possible
When you’re trying to get a job without work experience, your academic experience is your work experience. Think back to class projects, presentations, internships, and even individual work you completed as a part of your education.
You can emphasize this on your resume and in job interviews to show employers that you’re a great fit for their role.
You can use your academic work to highlight job-related skills (such as Python programming, Excel, or financial analysis) as well as soft skills like leadership, public speaking, multitasking, and more.
If you graduated recently and have absolutely no work experience, I suggest putting your resume “Education” section at the top of your resume (just below your contact info and summary paragraph) and treating it like a work experience section.
By that, I mean put specific accomplishments and bullets starting with verbs like “Led,” “Organized,” “Facilitated,” etc.
Here are two articles to help you write your resume in a way that will attract employers:
Of course, the advice above works best if you graduated somewhat recently. So if you’re trying to get a job at 30+ with no experience, then this next tip will help you more.
3. Take courses and get certifications
Here’s another effective way to get a job with no work history: Enroll in some online courses and certifications.
For learning general skills like marketing or sales, I recommend Skillshare which offers a free trial and thousands of courses.
Certain industries and topics have specific certifications you can find, too.
For example, if you want to learn software engineering, there are online coding bootcamps.
The right course for you will depend on your situation and goals, but don’t neglect to look at this option if you’re trying to get a job with no experience and feeling stuck.
Beware of expensive certifications, though; you can often find a similar education for much cheaper on sites like Skillshare (mentioned above). And while some specific certifications are well-known and highly-regarded (Like the PMP certification for project managers), many are just used to entice job seekers into paying a lot of money.
In my opinion as a former recruiter, for most industries, it’s more important to show you completed an online course and learned the job-related skills than it is to show a certification.
Fortunately, many of the budget-friendly courses on sites like Skillshare and elsewhere do offer a certification to show you completed the material.
4. Email companies even if they aren’t hiring or don’t have a relevant position
Spend 20–30% of your job search time sending emails to companies that aren’t advertising the perfect-fitting job. Why? Less competition. You never know when a company is about to start hiring, or growing and open to adding new entry level people even if they don’t “need” it right away.
One of my previous companies always did this. Sometimes they actively recruited recent graduates or people without any work experience, and sometimes they stopped or paused the recruiting efforts. But if someone great emailed us, or was referred to us, we’d ALWAYS interview them.
5. Network as much as possible
I just mentioned referrals. That’s one of the most powerful ways to get into a company because if you come recommended, you’ll immediately be more trusted and seem like less of a risk to hire.
If you need a good place to start, here’s an article with some networking tips.
If you’re a recent graduate, one of the best places to start is to ask former classmates and friends who already found jobs. Find out if their companies are hiring more people without work experience.
Don’t be apologetic or timid when you ask them either. Sometimes these companies offer a BIG referral bonus to the current employees if they refer a new hire. So you might be making your friend hundreds or even thousands of dollars (seriously!)
I know it’s a little nerve-racking to ask people for help or to network in general. But trust me – it could be the difference between finding a job fast and searching months without any good job offers. One or two phone calls (or emails, text messages, etc.) can turn your job search around overnight when it comes to referrals.
6. Follow a routine
Decide on set hours that you’ll apply each day (yes, it takes hours per day). Keep a consistent routine and hold yourself accountable. It’s like a job, but you’re the boss and you need to be honest with yourself about how much effort you’re giving, and if it’s enough you need to do something about it.
None of the other steps in this article will help you get a job without work experience if you don’t put in the time.
That said, there ARE some ways to save time…
7. Use this fast/easy method to apply for jobs on LinkedIn
This is one of my favorite time-saving methods for job seekers. It’s going to save you HOURS when applying for jobs, I’m not joking.
It works through LinkedIn, and don’t worry – you don’t need a ton of connections. In fact, it works with any amount.
8. Follow up and stay organized
This is another place you can save yourself a ton of time in your job search.
Track where you’ve sent applications and send a follow-up if you haven’t heard back in five business days. It takes 10% as much time to follow up as it did to send the initial job application, or probably even less. Definitely worth it.
But you can only do this is if you stay organized and actually track where you’ve applied and when.
I recommend keeping a simple Excel spreadsheet with a few columns:
- Company name
- Date you applied
- How you applied (email, online form, LinkedIn, job board, etc.)
- Followed up yet? (yes/no)
- Response? (no response, declined to interview me, interested in interviewing me, interview scheduled for __)
How to Get a Job With No Experience: Interview Preparation
Once you’re getting interviews, it’s time to focus on preparing to turn those interviews into job offers. Getting interviews is half the battle when it comes to getting a job with no experience, but you need to take advantage of each opportunity you get to interview!
First, make sure you’re researching each company before talking to them. Employers are going to be impressed if you know about their company, industry, and competitors, and it can help set you apart and put you over the top when you’re trying to get hired without experience.
Next, be ready to explain why you’d succeed in their job. Even for an entry-level position, or a job requiring no direct experience, employers are going to make their choice based on who they feel is most likely to be able to step into the job and succeed. So think about your soft skills, your education, any internships or work experience you have from other industries, and how it will help you.
If you read everything above, you now know how to find a job with no experience… including how to get job interviews and how to turn those interviews into job offers.
The tips we covered will help you succeed in both areas so you can get a job fast and end your job hunt!
To wrap up, here are a couple of other useful resources to help you get a job with no experience:
If there’s something more frustrating than searching for the right job, it’s waiting on the phone for that job offer.
According to a 2014 job seeker study, looking for employment is now considered a 24/7 gig. 45 percent of folks are still on the hunt for their dream jobs – although they’re already employed. Meanwhile, 38 percent look for open positions during their commute, and 18 percent hunt for work in the bathroom.
Considering you already have plenty of competition BEFORE you could even bag an interview, this makes applying for employment you’re obviously unqualified for highly challenging. Companies would go for the qualified candidates. They would see your lack of experience and deny you the interview.
Or would they?
But how can you showcase this when you were rejected before they can even interview you? How do you fill that gap in your employment history? What if you’re a new graduate without experience?
If there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are four practical tips to snag your dream job – even when you’re somewhat unqualified.
1. List Relevant Skills/Passions
To avoid the common frustration of getting rejected without meeting the hiring manager yet, focus on building up your resume AND cover letter. Whether you’re a new graduate or a career shifter, you will have gained some “experience” during your lifetime that you could somehow tie into the job you want.
For example: you’re an accountant but you want to shift into social work. Your target organization prefers someone with at least a year of experience in the field. Highlight relevant skills you’ve acquired through your current position that would come in handy for your future job, such as:
- organization (refer to how you handled client accounts and that time you planned the company seminar)
- communication (you did phone calls, created reports, and spoke with clients about their finances)
- critical thinking (don’t forget about the decisions you had to do to help save your clients’ accounts)
When you write your summary, be succinct yet make sure to highlight these aspects first.
“Current accountant for X company looking to fill the position for social work. Great at organization, communication, and critical thinking. Excellent ability to work under pressure and with highly difficult clients without sacrificing quality of relationships.”
This should present a reasonable enough argument as to why you should be considered for the opening.
2. Consider Related Side Jobs/Projects
“Experience” doesn’t necessarily mean paid work. In fact, it could mean different things to hiring managers. Volunteer work, side hustles, projects for friends or family, extra-curricular activities, etc. could all be considered valuable experience.
For example: after graduation, you worked for a few years as a restaurant manager. But what you really want to become is a financial adviser. Don’t dwell on the fact that you’re without experience from a related field. Focus on other aspects such as:
- Did you graduate with a finance-related degree?
- Do you have money-related projects on the side (i.e. help friends with their budgets)?
- Any other activities that you feel might be suited for the job you’re after (i.e. blogging about money-saving tips, accounting for the restaurant, managing payroll, etc.)?
List these on your resume under the experience section.
“Budgeting. Helped friends and family members on issues regarding funds, savings, and investment on a monthly basis.”
Be VERY specific when citing what you did. If you’re vague, the hiring manager may really think twice about asking you for an interview.
3. Don’t Forget Soft Skills
Although experts advise job seekers to go for work they most fit into, they definitely don’t dissuade applicants from running after a position they don’t have experience in. Job search expert Jessica Simko explains in a blog post that it’s because hiring managers typically hire for attitude – NOT skills.
Are you creative? Do people always describe you as an optimistic person? Do you consider yourself friendly, teachable, and with a high sense of honor? Then you might have an edge over those who are more qualified than you in terms of skill. According to Simko, recruiters are looking mostly for three things: passion, enthusiasm, and presence.
- Passion. Show that you want this job more than others. That despite the obvious lack in skill, you have something that other applicants lack: your excitement at coming to work every day.
- Enthusiasm. How interested are you in the job? Are you going to stick although the going will be tough? Or are you going to bail once a better opportunity is presented? Your interest in the position should be showcased throughout the application process – from your cover letter, your resume, to the interviews.
- Presence. Smile. Display confidence. Give a firm handshake. First impressions DO matter. So make a good one the moment you enter the room. Assure them with your stance that even without experience, you will make up for it in attitude.
Every day, companies and managers lose money from employees who are disengaged and refuse to learn anything new. So if you’re wondering why an under-qualified candidate is sometimes chosen, it’s likely because the person is more amicable and coachable than others.
4. Connect the Dots
Apart from your interview, the cover letter gives you a chance to really sell yourself and your relevant skills. Whether you have a gap in your employment history or you’re about to shift careers, your cover letter allows you to connect the dots and clear the argument for the hiring manager.
Turn it into a story. Begin with your relevant skills, align them with the job requirements, and end with WHY you’re the best person for the job.
“When I saw the opening for the position of X, it was mentioned that you were looking for someone with customer service experience. My years spent helping out at our local café has helped me earn the skills necessary for meeting and handling different individuals. As the café we own is quite small, I had the honor of becoming familiar with most of our customers: calling them by name, knowing their favorite drink, and occasionally joining them for a quick chat. Connecting with people really gives me a high. I look forward to working in a similar environment that will give me the opportunity to work with people every day.”
A T-formation cover letter will allow you to highlight your passions while hiding the lack in experience. In general, the employer’s requirements would be listed on the left-hand side, while your skills would be posted on the right-hand side. This should help the hiring manager overlook your weaknesses, but at the same time, give you an advantage.
BONUS: Have a Plan B
Let’s be realistic: even if you are qualified for the job, there are other reasons why you may not be hired. That’s why every job seeker needs a backup plan.
Creative director and author Katharine Hansen Ph.D. suggests using the “bait and switch” technique. Typically used in the advertising industry, this trick involves enticing the recruiter so you can get an interview (which is great to showcase your skills and charm) even if you obviously lack the credentials.
For example: say you’ve worked for years as a caregiver but you want to enter the healthcare sector as a medical secretary. With no money and without experience, how can you break into the healthcare industry? “Lure” the recruiter by emphasizing related skills (warm, welcoming demeanor, ability to handle various individuals, skilled in basic computer skills, etc.) but indicate a willingness to work for a lower position that would eventually lead to your ideal job. In this case, you may consider a job as a medical receptionist while you hone your talents and save money.
This is NOT going to be easy, but it should help you be invited for an interview. Once you’ve secured that, it’s time to charm them with your attitude (refer to tip #4).
Remember to avoid using generic buzzwords. Be genuine: pick words that you would use in daily conversation. Hiring managers can read between the lines and get a “feel” for words. If you’re confident with the skills you presented, odds are, recruiters will feel that, too.
With a little bit of resourcefulness, a sprinkle of wit, and a dash of passion, it’s possible to get the job you really want.