You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience… How do you get your foot on the ladder? Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking to follow a new career path, feeling like you don’t have the experience to land that first job can be frustrating. So, here are some of the ways you can achieve the (seemingly) impossible and get a job with no experience!
Address the issue
If you lack experience, don’t try to brush over the fact. A cover letter is the perfect place to address any gaps in your resume, so use the opportunity to address any concerns the employer might have. Then…
Focus on what you DO have
Experience is important, but so is your attitude to work, your personality, your understanding of the company and its activity, motivation, resilience, ideas for the future – the list is endless, so don’t get too hung up on any one thing.
Find experience you didn’t know you had
Before you decide you don’t have the experience, make absolutely sure this is true. Think back over your past jobs and try to draw links between the experience you need and the experience you have. Remember: it needn’t be exactly the same; the key word to keep in mind is relevant. If you’ve organised a meeting or answered the phones, that’s admin experience. If you’ve set up a Facebook page or created a flier, that’s marketing. Think outside the box!
Create some experience
Do some voluntary work, work experience, or an internship.
Don’t be afraid to start from scratch. Getting your foot in the door is crucial, and you never know what might come next.
But (as above) make sure the experience you’re getting is relevant. If you’re still taking your first steps, don’t waste time with unrelated work, especially if it’s unpaid!
Demonstrate your intent
If you really want to get into a particular industry, make sure that people know about it. Get involved in relevant industry discussions on LinkedIn, join relevant groups, attend networking and careers events, and make sure you make your enthusiasm public.
If you don’t have the desired level of experience, you need to be trustworthy. Network, and get your contacts to recommend you. Employers are more likely to overlook the gap in your experience if you come with a recommendation from someone they can trust. Find out more about effectiveness networking.
If you only apply for advertised jobs, you’re going to be assessed against set criteria. Apply speculatively to companies that interest you, demonstrate you’ve done your research, and ask if there’s any opportunities for you as you’re looking to break into the industry. If the answer is no, ask if you can apply again in 6 months, and find out what you can do in the meantime to improve your chances.
Get an interview
If nothing else, just focus on getting an interview. This is easily the best situation in which to address your lack of experience and the best place to sell your other strengths. Remember: whether you can do the job is just one factor the interviewer is considering, alongside your motivation, and your fit with the company culture. Ace both of these and who knows… 2 out of 3 might be enough!