HOW TO GET A JOB WITH NO EXPERIENCE

You need a job, but you have no experience. If you’re like many women in this position, your job-hunting process may look something like this:

 

  1. Sit down at your computer.
  2. Type “jobs with no experience near me” into your favorite search engine.
  3. Proceed to grow more and more discouraged as you filter through the results.
  4. Discover that even jobs that seem to require no experience absolutely do require experience that you feel you don’t have.
  5. Give up and spend the rest of the day distressed that you’ll never move forward in your career because you just don’t have what you need to have in order to be able to make it.
  6. Shame yourself for not being better.
  7. Blame yourself for mistakes you’ve made along your path.
  8. Dig in to that pint of ice cream hidden in the back of the fridge to make yourself feel better.
  9. Realize it can’t make you feel better because it’s freezer burned, tastes gross.
  10. Throw it away, lamenting that your life is just like that ice cream: something that was once sweet now gone terribly, horribly bad.

If you’ve gone through something similar, then we take this opportunity to say:

 

STOP. Stop it now. Don’t go to that dark place. There’s another way.

 

Yes, it’s true that experience helps in any job search, but what actually constitutes experience? It’s more than just a list of places you’ve worked or education you’ve received, even though that’s what most people believe experience to be. If you look at what you’ve done in your life in a new way, you may discover that you have everything – or at least almost everything – you need to land the job you want. It may just take a little creativity to help you get where you want to go.

The following tips expand on the idea of experience and show you how to use what you already have to get the job you want. Use all the strategies or choose which apply best to your situation and career opportunities will come your way. No freezer-burned ice cream necessary.

 

1. Use Your Soft Skills

You may not have direct work experience for the job you want, but concrete skills aren’t the only valuable assets in an employee. Soft skills, also known as intangible skills, have become increasingly more desirable in workers.

If you are adept at interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, leadership, conflict resolution, organization, creativity, teamwork, adaptability or any other invisible-but-powerful skill, you can leverage it in your cover letter or in an interview.

Learn to lead with your soft skills if you don’t have the prior work history to support your application. Highlight ways in which you’ve exercised those soft skills to great success. Speak to how your skills can serve the company you want to work for.

2. Find an Adjacent Job to the One You Want

Let’s say you want to work as a copywriter, but you have no prior experience in that area. Ask yourself, “what job can I do that is near to the job I really want?” Perhaps a proofreader position or a Virtual Assistant position that includes copywriting as part of the job is a better fit to start.

Use this job as a stepping stone to get you to the job you really want. You’ll build at least comparable work experience and – if you do a good job – you’ll have a reference or two to support your future applications.

Work for free

Photo by Emma Dau

3. Work for Free (but Only for a Little While)

Find opportunities to gain unpaid experience that will help you when it comes time to land a paid position in the field you want to be in. Don’t do this forever. It can be a trap to give away your time and energy for free.

However, if you have a plan for where you want to go, and you need a specific kind of experience to support you in getting there, go ahead and lend yourself to a project that aligns with the job you’re after. Again, the relationships you form could mean a great reference down the line, and you’ll have added a key component to your resume.

4. Translate the Experience You Do Have

Perhaps you don’t have direct experience in line with the job you’re applying for, but what about what you have done? Maybe you’ve never worked in finance, but you’ve worked a similar job for a fashion house.

Look at what you want to get and look at what you’ve done. Where can you bridge the two together? Get creative with how you present your prior work history and don’t be afraid to craft the narrative that supports you the best.

5. Tailor Your Resume for Each Application

This takes time and energy, but it can be very useful when you’re working with little to no relevant experience. Look at the requirements of the position you desire, research the mission statement and values of the company, and create a resume that reflects how you fit the culture of the company. Tell them what you want them to know.

(If you’re looking for a great resume template that you can adjust to suit your needs, check out our free downloadable resume templates!)

6. Educate Yourself

You may not have the work experience, but what about education? There are a multitude of resources and courses online to take. Even one course that targets a specific skill you need for the job you want can mean the difference between landing a job and not landing a job.

7. Network Like Crazy

Many positions are filled based on referrals and who knows who. Get yourself out there and meet people. Meet Up groups are happening all the time, as are other hosted networking events. Find a few in your area and check them out. You never know which connection will lead you to the job you want.

If you want to know more about networking, read our article “The Ultimate Guide to Professional Networking.”

8. Become Tenacious

Look at the pursuit of a new job as a challenge. Become more tenacious and active, rather than passive. If you sit around waiting for the magical moment when someone will just ask you to work for them, you’re going to wait for a long time. But if you keep reaching out, keep working, keep educating yourself, and keep asking for what you want, eventually something will come through.

9. Don’t Count Yourself Out

You won’t get a job if you decide not to apply based on the fact you have no experience. In fact, it’s not always experience that lands people certain jobs. Who you are, how you present yourself, and how you rise to the occasion are all factors in landing a great job. Even if you think you’ll probably get rejected, you will never know unless you go for it. Don’t just apply for what you think you can probably get – decide what you actually want and go after it with all you have.

 

If you know what you want, but you’re not sure how to get there, check out our course, How to Land Your Next Job.” It’s full of the information you need to know to move you forward. We also have many articles to support you in your job search. If you want more specific guidance, contact us and let us pair you with the perfect coach and courses to launch you into the next phase of your professional life.

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