How To Get a Job With No Experience
1. Highlight your transferable experience
If you are changing careers, you can use the work experience you have to show your potential to succeed in this new role. The best way to approach this is to frame that work experience in a way that is more relevant to what you want to do. Look for the transferable skills that you have developed in your previous career or experiences and emphasize those on your resume.
For example, if you currently work as a barista but would like to switch to bartending, you have a lot of transferable skills, including customer service, following recipes to create beverages and keeping the workspace clean and compliant with health and safety codes. Even if your current job is not very closely related to the career you want, there will likely be a few skills or job duties that overlap.
2. Emphasize your soft skills
For individuals changing careers, your soft skills will almost certainly be among your most transferable skills. Soft skills include things that are not industry-specific but are still essential for doing the job well. They include things such as:
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Interpersonal skills
- Adaptability or flexibility
For those with no work experience at all, think about other ways you might have cultivated or demonstrated some of these soft skills. Look at any volunteer experience and extracurricular activities you have for examples of these skills. Use that experience on your resume to demonstrate soft skills.
Do a little background research into your desired industry to find out which soft skills are most sought after in candidates for the position you are applying for. Try to focus on examples and work experience that demonstrate those specific skills.
3. Build a network
The power of networking with the people doing what you want to do cannot be overstated, no matter which industry you want to work in. Reach out to professionals through social media or email and invite them out for coffee or ask if they would be willing to talk to you over the phone. Ask them questions about the work they do and what advice they would give to someone just starting in their field.
These are known as informational interviews. They are a great way to learn more about the career you are interested in while also making personal connections with people in the industry. While you do not want to directly ask for a job or recommendation the first time you meet someone, you should take some time to talk about what your greatest strengths are and what steps you plan on taking to make yourself a stronger candidate.
You might not become extremely close with every person you talk to but the more informational interviews you do, the more likely you are to build real connections that could translate to professional recommendations later on. Make sure to be friendly and appreciative during these conversations, and focus on learning more about the career and connecting with the person you’re talking to.
4. Take lower-paid or unpaid opportunities
One way to get the career you want is to work your way up from the bottom. Find an entry-level position or even an internship and build your experience from there. It might not pay as well as you would like, but it will give you some critical work experience to put on your resume.
If you can’t afford to take a pay cut or work in an unpaid internship position, try to find something part-time or flexible enough to allow you to earn the income you need from another job while gaining the experience you need from this lower-paid or unpaid opportunity. Working two jobs may feel like a lot, but taking on the extra workload now will pay off over time as you can show some real work experience when you apply for better-paying jobs.
5. Be clear about your motivation
Without demonstrated experience on the job, employers will naturally want to look for proof that you are actually interested in this specific career and not just looking for a job to pay the bills. Even if an attractive salary is one of your primary motivators, you should be ready to clearly explain why that particular career appeals to you.
Your potential to learn the skills and meet the demands of the position is heavily dependent on how motivated you are to do well. Try to be as specific as you can in explaining why you are determined to work in this field. Talk about a personal connection you have to the work or a moment that inspired you to pursue this career. You can also discuss your long-term career goals on your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview.
6. Do it on your own
For many careers, especially creative ones, you can prove you are capable of the work by coming up with side projects on your own. If you want to be a writer, set up a free website and start posting your writing to it. If you want to work in marketing, develop a strategy to promote yourself through social media and digital marketing. If you want to work in carpentry, start crafting some pieces in your garage.
Coming up with your own projects will not only demonstrate that you have the skills required to do the work you want to pursue, but it also shows an incredible amount of initiative. It tells employers that you are so passionate about this work that you spend your free time doing it.
7. Find your own way into the career
Not every career path is a straight line. If you can get a job at a company you want to work for doing the work you currently do, this may be a good strategy for you. Once you’re working for them, you can start planning ways to transition into the new career you want to pursue.
For example, if you are an aspiring fashion designer who currently works in customer service, find a job as a receptionist in a clothing brand’s office. Once you’re there, you can talk with the designers, offer to assist them with their work and get their advice on how to work your way into a designer role.
8. Go back to school
If the career you want is completely unrelated to what you are currently doing, consider going back to school for it. While strong credentials aren’t a substitute for work experience, they still signal to employers that you have demonstrated interest and potential. They will be more likely to take a risk on an entry-level candidate if you can show them a strong educational background.
Here are a few other advantages of going back to school:
- Networking: The professors teaching classes in the field you want to work in will usually have some professional connections. Stay after class and attend office hours to build relationships with your professors and ask for their help in connecting you with potential employers.
- Internships and training: Many degree programs, especially those designed to prepare you for a professional career, include or at least offer internships or hands-on practical training. If it isn’t built into the curriculum of your program, you can speak to your advisor to find out what opportunities they offer.
- Career resources: Your professors, advisors and other staff in your department can all help you figure out your options, plan your career and prepare for your job search. More importantly, they will be able to give you advice that is industry-specific and based on their knowledge of your unique situation and qualifications.
- References: Professors can be great references to list on your resume. They will be able to frame your educational achievements and skills in a way that employers in your industry will be impressed with. Just make sure to ask your professors first before you list them as references.
9. Send the application
Even if you aren’t feeling entirely confident in your qualifications, you can still send an application anyway. Applying at least gives you the potential to get the job. Moreover, if you do apply, you might be surprised to find out that you are the most qualified candidate out of the applications they received.
Create a job-hunting schedule and send out a set number of applications each week. You may not hear back from many of them, but you will likely get a couple of interviews this way and potentially your first job.
10. Consider relocating
Depending on the industry, you might find that there just isn’t enough demand in your area but there might be in other areas. Widening your search area to include other locations can expand the number of jobs you can apply for and increase your chance of actually getting one.
Of course, relocation isn’t a realistic option for everyone, and you should only consider moving to a location where you think you would enjoy living. However, if you are flexible about where you live, you can greatly increase the potential of getting your dream job.
11. Ask for feedback
If you find that you are getting interviews but aren’t getting hired, reach out to the employers who interviewed you for feedback. Do this by sending a friendly email asking for their honest feedback regarding your application. This is a great way to learn more about what tweaks you can make to your resume and what you can do to improve your overall performance in the interview. Just note that you should only ask for feedback if you have made it to the interview stage.