Here's How to Get a Job With No Experience
It’s the age-old question: How in the world do I get a job without any experience? Luckily, we’re here to tell you – it’s not impossible.
Say you’re browsing the job listings on Snagajob and you spot the perfect part-time opportunity, only it comes with a catch: 1 to 2 years of experience required. Fear not, noble job searcher. Use the following tips to still apply for a job that claims to need experience, and do so with confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Understand the nature of job requirements
There’s a longstanding mantra in the writing world. “Learn the rules, then break them.” Truthfully, this extends far beyond the realm of writing, but it does prove that there’s wiggle room as far as etched-in-stone “rules” are concerned.
Of course, you need to still need to carry yourself professionally and adhere to basic job search best practices. But when a requirement comes along like 1 to 2 years of experience – AKA, something with potential wiggle room – why not test fate? What could you possibly have to lose (save for a little time) by applying and, moreover, putting together the best possible application?
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has had a lot of success over the course of his career, which makes some people surprised when they learn that he dropped out of high school. In fact, he became who he is today from watching a ton of movies and writing scripts.
Are we saying drop out of school if you’re taking classes? Absolutely not. Just proving our point again. There are hundreds of Tarantino-like examples in our world; stories of people who didn’t let a pesky requirement stop them from being great and trying their best. Tarantino could’ve easily looked at Hollywood and said, “No way they’ll embrace a high school dropout with a few acting classes under his belt.” Instead, he made his own films and his own fortune.
Leverage your current skills
Is never having had a “real job” making you think that you don’t have experience? Fair enough. But just because you didn’t get paid for something doesn’t mean you didn’t learn useful skills that you can transfer to a job. In fact, you’re probably more qualified than you think.
Participating in sports, clubs, and volunteer opportunities help build communication, teamwork, and organization skills that apply to any job, anywhere. For example, think about all the times you’ve babysat or mowed lawns in the neighborhood. You’ve probably learned a little something about being accountable and managing money. Show off those skills.
And if you have had a “real job” but are looking to apply for something in a completely different sector, then get out a sheet of paper and write down all of the skills you’ve accumulated. Then, look at how some of those skills translate to the new gig you want. We’re willing to bet that you’ll find a lot of crossover!
Research the company and the position
One of the best ways to make your application stand out from the rest of the pack is by doing your due diligence. That due diligence involves research, research, and more research. Learn as much as you possibly can about the company you’d like to apply for, and find ways to show off this knowledge in your cover letter.
For example, if the company’s values closely align with yours, mention this! Make that connection between you and your potential employer. Good things can come from it.
Also be sure to research the general position that you want to hold. Not just the company’s position. Say you’re racing after an open administrative assistant position at XYZ Company. Perfect. Now read through the company’s job description, and then look up a general description for an administrative assistant. Use both to better understand the job and, more importantly, how your wealth of knowledge and past experiences (in whatever setting) can translate.
Retool your resume to match the job description
Next up is to retool your resume so that it’s tailor-made for your target position. Star or highlight this tip because it’s useful for any job search you do. Your resume is like a calling card. It’s that first impression that you’ll have on an employer, so you want everything on there to be true to who you are and to talk you up.
This is the part where your research starts paying off. When you know who the company is and what they’re looking for, you can fine-tune your resume to match those skills. If you’re citing past jobs, write bullet points that relate directly to the skills you’ll need for this new employment opportunity.
Or if you’re starting from scratch, channel your research into a fantastic Skills section that speaks to your ability to do A, B, C, and D. Many job applicants seem to get hung up on whether or not to use resume objectives. We’ve covered that in detail here.
Let your personality shine
Another fact of the job search: Sometimes employers are way more interested in your personality and availability than your past experience. If the latter is lacking, that’s what training is for. However, if you come off as hard to work with or unable to communicate, then it’s probably a no-go.
Employers want to hire people who are trainable and excited to learn. So get out there and show off what makes you…you. When you’re scouting for jobs, look for descriptions that fit your personality and then emphasize the characteristics you hold that make you the perfect fit for the position.
For example, a sales associate job you’re interested in requires prior experience in sales or customer service. Even though you haven’t worked in sales, you’ve probably got experience listening to people and making others happy – focus on that!
Let’s also look back at that administrative assistant example – maybe you’ve never managed an executive’s calendar or taken phone calls behind a desk. However, you used to hold a part-time manager position at your local grocery store, where you scheduled employee shifts and solved problems all. The. Time.
Boom. There’s your organization and people skills. Now you just have to emphasize this in a well-made resume and catchy cover letter.
Apply for the job and see what happens
Don’t apply for a shift manager job if you’ve never worked a shift or managed other people – obviously. There has to be a bit of give-and-take in your search. You wouldn’t run a marathon without ever having run a 5K, right?
But if you fit most of the qualifications for a job except experience level, then consider applying anyway. Employers may ask for a year or two of experience, but if you have a great personality and can make yourself stand out from other applicants, they’ll be much more likely to consider you. Don’t forget to show off your positive attitude, excitement, and willingness to learn.
Be someone that your employer wants to work with, and someone who they believe is passionate about their company and ready to do great things. Even if this is just a stepping stone toward your ultimate career goals, you still want to treat every job like it’s the only job you’ll ever have. Give your all no matter what.
While getting a job with no experience sometimes equates to taking an entry-level position that isn’t quite what you want, the best way to gain necessary skills for advancement is by starting on the bottom rung of the ladder and climbing your way up. Every journey has to begin somewhere!
Need more help?
We’re here to act as your job search concierge and help you find a position that best matches your interests, qualifications, and future career goals. If you’re ready to job search, check out job listings in your area.
Or, if you’d like to browse more of our helpful employment resources, check out our full blog. You’re bound to find everything you need from applying to interviewing to working to essential career advice. No matter your questions, we’re here to provide guidance. Happy job hunting!