Trying to figure out how to get a job with no experience might seem impossible at first, but it happens all the time! It’s all about persistence and knowing how to showcase what you have to offer.
This list of tips will help you find a job without experience. The right approach makes all the difference.
1. Revisit Your Background and Look for Relevant Experience You Overlooked
You might not have the experience a job advertising states it wants, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to bring to the table. Look back at your history and education. There’s likely a treasure trove of transferable skills you never thought to bring up.
Have you worked as a waiter or cashier? You have experience with customer service. What about spending hours volunteering at a local animal shelter answering phones? That easily translates into administrative experience.
Take a deep dive into your volunteer record, education, extracurricular, and work history, no matter how irrelevant it might seem. The key is to frame your application and resume to focus on the transferable skills you can bring into this position. Many people who question their ability to get a job with no experience forget how much they actually have to offer!
2. Highlight Your Soft Skills
It doesn’t matter whether you’re changing careers or entering the workforce for the first time as a young adult. Your past history has helped you gain many soft skills.
Soft skills are more interpersonal. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with job specifics, but they revolve around how you work. Sometimes these are referred to as transferable skills.
For example, a job might ask for a slew of hard skills directly related to the position. That could be a specific license, proficiency in particular software, a degree, set typing speed, etc. Soft skills are everything else you need to succeed.
We’re talking about skills like:
- Good time management
- Critical thinking
- Stress management
Those are just a small collection of common soft skills. There are many more applicable skills you can bring up.
The goal here is to show that you’re willing and capable to put the work into succeeding with this opportunity. You may not have the hard skills, but you have everything else. People can learn how to use software or improve their typing speed.
But those crucial soft skills can take years to develop. Highlighting your interpersonal skills shows that you can easily fit into this environment and grow into the job even without experience.
Once again, look back at what you’ve done in the past. Make a meaningful connection to events that helped you develop the soft skills you’re highlighting. There’s a good chance they’ll come up later if you get an interview, so make those connections count.
3. Use Your Network
Networking goes a long way no matter how much experience you have. But when you’re trying to get a job with no experience, it can make all the difference.
Your network is simply the people you know – family, friends, people you went to school with, professors, people you volunteered with or anyone that you’ve worked with in the past.
Use your network to see if you can get your foot in the door. That might seem unlikely, but having someone within a company vouch for your skills can be highly beneficial. It’s about showing that you’re responsible and capable enough to grow into a job.
Reaching out to people in your network can feel awkward at first, but don’t let that stop you. Many companies give referral bonuses if their recommendation leads to a hire. So, it’s beneficial on both sides.
Are you worried that you don’t have a strong enough network to get a job without experience? If so, it’s time to start building your network from the ground up. There’s no better time than now to start connecting with other professionals.
Find individuals working in the industry you want to enter. It’s not a good idea to ask for a job outright, but you can request an interview to learn more about the field and get advice. Informational interviews can help you forge business relationships.
Even if you don’t get any leads, those people you speak with might remember later on when opportunities arise.
4. Create Experience for Yourself
Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and create the experience you lack. In fact, many people who figured out how to get a job with no experience relied on this trick!
There are a few ways to approach this, and what’s right for you will depend on your situation. You can create experience through volunteering, shadowing working professionals, and internships. Taking on a few side projects can also help you gain relevant experience.
There are plenty of fields that allow you to take a DIY approach to your career (and some even pay six-figures). Start there and do some side work that will pad your resume.
5. Consider an Entry-Level Position or an Internship
If you have the means, consider taking an entry-level job. There’s no shame in starting at the bottom and working your way up.
Whether it’s a low-paying position in the field you want to enter or an unpaid internship, see it as a chance to gain the skills you need to advance.
Of course, a significant full-time pay cut isn’t always possible. In those cases, think about getting part-time positions or working a few times a month. Every little bit of experience counts.
6. Pursue Certifications and Training Courses
Want to impress potential employers despite the lack of experience? Take the initiative to complete some training on your own. Many companies encourage their employees to take training courses and improve their skills.
Taking the matter into your own hands does two things. First, it can close the experience gap you’re facing. Secondly, it shows initiative and puts your work ethic in the spotlight. Both are fantastic for getting a job with little to no experience in a given field.
There’s no shortage of courses you can take. Career education is pretty flexible these days, and your options are far greater than going back to school. You can certainly go that route if you’re capable of doing so.
However, you may fare better looking into job-specific training courses. Check out your local community college or look online for boot camp-style online classes. If the job you want asks for proficiency in software, take a class on it!
You can also look into professional licensing, putting you on par with other job-seekers. If you’re trying to get a job with no experience, this is one of the best ways to help yourself.
7. Show Interest
Don’t expect companies to consider you for a job with no experience if you don’t show genuine interest and motivation. Companies hire individuals without experience all the time! Many would rather mold a new employee who can grow with the company rather than try to reshape someone set in their ways.
But to get to that point, you must show that you intend to work hard and overcome your lack of experience. Show your enthusiasm and get as involved as you can. That means joining social media groups, attending events, and more. Those tasks can help you network while putting your intent front and center. Show them why they should hire you.
8. Showcase Your Academic Background
So many people get caught up worrying about direct work experience that they forget to consider how much their academic background can beef up an application. Whether you’re fresh out of college or graduated a decade ago, your educational experience can make a difference. As mentioned in the first tip, go back and connect those dots to show why you’d make a great candidate for the job.
Highlight major projects that include any relevant hard and soft skills, talk about internships that prepared you for this role, and presentations that prove your professionalism.
And don’t forget about clubs and activities you were involved in on campus. These experiences all show valuable transferable skills.
If you have no work experience, place your educational merits at the top of your resume. Put your most noteworthy accomplishments first and always draw a connection back to the job so that recruiters can see why your education is relevant.
9. Customize Your Application & Resume
If you’re not customizing your applications and resumes to every position you apply for, you’re lowering your chances of getting a job. A generic-looking application won’t capture the attention of a hiring manager. In most cases, they’ll gloss right over it due to your lack of experience. It may not even make it past the initial recruitment screening!
Tailoring your resume and application for the job is crucial if you’re trying to get a job with no experience. Pay close attention to the job description and note the skills the company wants. Then, use some of our earlier tips to include soft skills on your resume.
Look back on your educational experience and look for all the related soft skills that could benefit you in the role.
Customizing every resume will take more time, but the effort is well worth it. This tip will increase your odds of landing an interview and possibly getting your foot in the door.
Be sure to save these versions of your resume and cover letter to reference when you receive an interview.
10. Reach Out to Companies That Aren’t Hiring
Want to know an effective way to get on a company’s radar? It’s by reaching out to people inside companies whenever they’re not actively hiring.
Hiring managers can receive hundreds of applications after putting out an ad for an open position. They see so many names that they often don’t get the chance to make a real connection. If your application is one in a massive pile of hundreds, you’re more likely to get lost in the crowd.
But if you reach out when the organization isn’t actively recruiting, you have less competition. Reach out to the companies that interest you and send a friendly email either to someone you know, someone who holds a role you are interested in or even the person who may be your future boss. A hiring manager might have more time to provide you with some insight into potential future openings.
More importantly, it’s an opportunity to forge a new working relationship. You never know when a company will start another round of hiring. If you express your interest in working for the organization now, you’ll stand out and may get the chance to come in for an interview. If you want to find a job with no experience, you should take this step seriously.
11. Follow Up
Don’t forget to follow up after putting in applications. It’s a short task that takes only a few minutes, but that gesture can keep your name fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.
All you have to do is send out an email if you haven’t heard back in a week or so. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t get a response. But who knows? You might get an interview invite simply for showing initiative and interest in the company’s opportunity.
12. Stay Organized
This tip goes along with the one listed above. Reaching out to recruiters and hiring managers can make all the difference. But if you get frazzled and end up emailing the same person multiple times, it can leave a bad impression.
Stay organized during your job search! It’s easy to get confused when sending in several applications a day.
You may accidentally put in more than one application for the same job. Even worse, you could get names mixed up! This is more likely to happen if you’re applying for numerous positions (here’s a guide on how many jobs you should apply to)
Consider making a simple spreadsheet to track your progress. Provide a little information about the company and the application progress to jog your memory every time you look at it.
Gather all the pertinent information like when you applied, how you applied, whether you’ve reached out to anyone, and if you received an interview request. It’s a good idea to record how many days have passed since you submitted your application. That way, you can know precisely when to send a follow-up email.
Also, keep a copy of the job posting. Copy and paste it into a text document or take a screenshot so you can reference the job advertisement later. Often, when the job posting expires, the listing disappears. Since you’ve customized your resume and cover letter for each job, it’s important to save these documents separately too.
13. Prepare to Address Your Lack of Experience in the Interview
Our last tip for getting a job with no experience is that you should be prepared to address your lack of experience during an interview.
All of our previous tips are primarily aimed at getting an interview. Many recruiters will ditch your application when they realize you don’t have the skills or experience they require. Making your application as enticing as possible despite experience issues is the ultimate goal.
Once you get that elusive interview, you can make a real connection with the hiring manager and sell your strengths! It’s easy to dwell on a thin resume. But when you’re in the room talking to a real person, other factors come into play.
You can win interviewers over when you focus on the right details. Speak about your motivations and show them that you’re a good fit everywhere else. Prioritize your strengths and be honest about why you don’t have the experience they were looking for from a new hire. Asking some questions at the end of the interview can also help you make a great impression.
Practice your interview skills and do your best to sell yourself. Once you get an invitation to come in for an interview, your odds of getting the job increase significantly. All that’s left is to impress the hiring manager, highlight your strengths, and knock the interview out of the park!
Now that you know how to get a job with no experience, it’s time to get the process started. Work through this list and see what tips will benefit your particular situation the most!
You’ll be surprised how fast you can find a job with the right approach and some dedication.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.