Get Hired with No Experience
You need experience to get a job but you need a job to get experience. How do you break the cycle and get your foot in the door? All it takes is a little knowledge and some strategic thinking. Below we offer some advice to job seekers with little or no experience.
Focus on Entry Level Positions
1. If you have zero past work experience and you’re looking for your first job, focus on entry level positions at companies or in fields that interest you. Office assistant may not be your dream job, but if you’re just starting out you should be more focused on getting the right foot-in-the-door and working your way up. Try to focus on entry-level jobs in areas where you’d like to eventually grow.
If you’re breaking in to a new industry you can aim a little higher, just be sure to highlight relevant skills and experience that overlap with your previous work (management, organization, sales, communication, etc.)
Do Career Research
2. The same advice applies to you as to every other job seeker out there. Be sure to research the position and the company, think carefully about what you have to offer, ask intelligent questions, get outside help with your resume and cover letter, dress the part and work that network!
Get a Recommendation
3. That last point is so important it deserves its own place in the lineup. This should go at the top of any job-seekers “to-do” list. Networking is your greatest asset in the quest for employment, but even more so if you lack experience. A recommendation from a trusted professional is often all you need to convince a new employer to hire you.
Consider the Job Requirements
4. If you’re less than experienced it’s likely you won’t meet all the requirements listed in a job post. Instead of being put-off by what seems like a daunting list of credentials you don’t have, consider the daily tasks of the role and whether you could reasonably perform them. If yes, go for it! Consider these job requirements as the employers “wish list.” Typically these are negotiable unless explicitly stated otherwise.
5. While a full-time job may be a bit more difficult to get at first, there are many ways to build your resume. Look for internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer opportunities, especially if they relate to the kind of job you’re looking for. These can also be excellent opportunities for networking and, if you do particularly well, can open the door to a full-time position.
Don’t Exaggerate or Sell Yourself Short
6. Resist the temptation to embellish your past achievements or invent experience you don’t have. These little lies have a tendency to backfire in big ways that can damage your reputation. Likewise, don’t downplay your skills and abilities. They are no less relevant because they come from outside the typical corporate or government sphere. Think, “honesty, authenticity, and quiet confidence.”
Emphasize your “Soft Skills”
7. Soft skills are those personality traits and unique strengths that make you a valuable addition to the team. These tend to sound more like descriptions of your character than specific examples of your past successes. During an interview, for example, you may explain that you are patient, detail-oriented, and good at keeping things organized. Maybe your soft skills include a willingness to do a wide variety of jobs, work unusual hours, or develop solutions for challenges which the company has simply not had time to deal with in the past. In any job, experience is only part of the puzzle. Hiring managers also place great value on your personality and “fit” for their team.