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4 Useful Tips to Get the Job You Want Without Experience

4 Useful Tips to Get the Job You Want Without Experience

If there’s something more frustrating than searching for the right job, it’s waiting on the phone for that job offer.

According to a 2014 job seeker study, looking for employment is now considered a 24/7 gig. 45 percent of folks are still on the hunt for their dream jobs – although they’re already employed. Meanwhile, 38 percent look for open positions during their commute, and 18 percent hunt for work in the bathroom.

Considering you already have plenty of competition BEFORE you could even bag an interview, this makes applying for employment you’re obviously unqualified for highly challenging. Companies would go for the qualified candidates. They would see your lack of experience and deny you the interview.

Or would they?

But how can you showcase this when you were rejected before they can even interview you? How do you fill that gap in your employment history? What if you’re a new graduate without experience?

If there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are four practical tips to snag your dream job – even when you’re somewhat unqualified.

1. List Relevant Skills/Passions

To avoid the common frustration of getting rejected without meeting the hiring manager yet, focus on building up your resume AND cover letter. Whether you’re a new graduate or a career shifter, you will have gained some “experience” during your lifetime that you could somehow tie into the job you want.

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For example: you’re an accountant but you want to shift into social work. Your target organization prefers someone with at least a year of experience in the field. Highlight relevant skills you’ve acquired through your current position that would come in handy for your future job, such as:

  • organization (refer to how you handled client accounts and that time you planned the company seminar)
  • communication (you did phone calls, created reports, and spoke with clients about their finances)
  • critical thinking (don’t forget about the decisions you had to do to help save your clients’ accounts)

When you write your summary, be succinct yet make sure to highlight these aspects first.

“Current accountant for X company looking to fill the position for social work. Great at organization, communication, and critical thinking. Excellent ability to work under pressure and with highly difficult clients without sacrificing quality of relationships.”

This should present a reasonable enough argument as to why you should be considered for the opening.

2. Consider Related Side Jobs/Projects

“Experience” doesn’t necessarily mean paid work. In fact, it could mean different things to hiring managers. Volunteer work, side hustles, projects for friends or family, extra-curricular activities, etc. could all be considered valuable experience.

bar-side-hustle

    For example: after graduation, you worked for a few years as a restaurant manager. But what you really want to become is a financial adviser. Don’t dwell on the fact that you’re without experience from a related field. Focus on other aspects such as:

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    • Did you graduate with a finance-related degree?
    • Do you have money-related projects on the side (i.e. help friends with their budgets)?
    • Any other activities that you feel might be suited for the job you’re after (i.e. blogging about money-saving tips, accounting for the restaurant, managing payroll, etc.)?

    List these on your resume under the experience section.

    “Budgeting. Helped friends and family members on issues regarding funds, savings, and investment on a monthly basis.”

    Be VERY specific when citing what you did. If you’re vague, the hiring manager may really think twice about asking you for an interview.

    3. Don’t Forget Soft Skills

    Although experts advise job seekers to go for work they most fit into, they definitely don’t dissuade applicants from running after a position they don’t have experience in. Job search expert Jessica Simko explains in a blog post that it’s because hiring managers typically hire for attitude – NOT skills.

    Are you creative? Do people always describe you as an optimistic person? Do you consider yourself friendly, teachable, and with a high sense of honor? Then you might have an edge over those who are more qualified than you in terms of skill. According to Simko, recruiters are looking mostly for three things: passion, enthusiasm, and presence.

    • Passion. Show that you want this job more than others. That despite the obvious lack in skill, you have something that other applicants lack: your excitement at coming to work every day.
    • Enthusiasm. How interested are you in the job? Are you going to stick although the going will be tough? Or are you going to bail once a better opportunity is presented? Your interest in the position should be showcased throughout the application process – from your cover letter, your resume, to the interviews.
    • Presence. Smile. Display confidence. Give a firm handshake. First impressions DO matter. So make a good one the moment you enter the room. Assure them with your stance that even without experience, you will make up for it in attitude.

    Every day, companies and managers lose money from employees who are disengaged and refuse to learn anything new. So if you’re wondering why an under-qualified candidate is sometimes chosen, it’s likely because the person is more amicable and coachable than others.

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    man-manager-hiring

      4. Connect the Dots

      Apart from your interview, the cover letter gives you a chance to really sell yourself and your relevant skills. Whether you have a gap in your employment history or you’re about to shift careers, your cover letter allows you to connect the dots and clear the argument for the hiring manager.

      Turn it into a story. Begin with your relevant skills, align them with the job requirements, and end with WHY you’re the best person for the job.

      “When I saw the opening for the position of X, it was mentioned that you were looking for someone with customer service experience. My years spent helping out at our local café has helped me earn the skills necessary for meeting and handling different individuals. As the café we own is quite small, I had the honor of becoming familiar with most of our customers: calling them by name, knowing their favorite drink, and occasionally joining them for a quick chat. Connecting with people really gives me a high. I look forward to working in a similar environment that will give me the opportunity to work with people every day.”

      A T-formation cover letter will allow you to highlight your passions while hiding the lack in experience. In general, the employer’s requirements would be listed on the left-hand side, while your skills would be posted on the right-hand side. This should help the hiring manager overlook your weaknesses, but at the same time, give you an advantage.

      2-column-cover-letter

        BONUS: Have a Plan B

        Let’s be realistic: even if you are qualified for the job, there are other reasons why you may not be hired. That’s why every job seeker needs a backup plan.

        Creative director and author Katharine Hansen Ph.D. suggests using the “bait and switch” technique. Typically used in the advertising industry, this trick involves enticing the recruiter so you can get an interview (which is great to showcase your skills and charm) even if you obviously lack the credentials.

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        For example: say you’ve worked for years as a caregiver but you want to enter the healthcare sector as a medical secretary. With no money and without experience, how can you break into the healthcare industry? “Lure” the recruiter by emphasizing related skills (warm, welcoming demeanor, ability to handle various individuals, skilled in basic computer skills, etc.) but indicate a willingness to work for a lower position that would eventually lead to your ideal job. In this case, you may consider a job as a medical receptionist while you hone your talents and save money.

        This is NOT going to be easy, but it should help you be invited for an interview. Once you’ve secured that, it’s time to charm them with your attitude (refer to tip #4).

        Remember to avoid using generic buzzwords. Be genuine: pick words that you would use in daily conversation. Hiring managers can read between the lines and get a “feel” for words. If you’re confident with the skills you presented, odds are, recruiters will feel that, too.

        With a little bit of resourcefulness, a sprinkle of wit, and a dash of passion, it’s possible to get the job you really want.

        Featured photo credit: Alex Jones via stocksnap.io

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        Content Strategist, Storyteller

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        Last Updated on April 25, 2019

        How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

        How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

        Shifting careers, tiny or big, can be paralyzing. Whether your desire for a career change is self-driven or involuntary, you can manage the panic and fear by understanding ‘why’ you are making the change.

        Your ability to clearly and confidently articulate your transferable skills makes it easier for employers to understand how you are best suited for the job or industry.

        A well written career change resume that shows you have read the job description and markets your transferable skills can increase your success for a career change.

        3 Steps to Prepare Your Mind Before Working on the Resume

        Step 1: Know Your ‘Why’

        Career changes can be an unnerving experience. However, you can lessen the stress by making informed decisions through research.

        One of the best ways to do this is by conducting informational interviews.[1] Invest time to gather information from diverse sources. Speaking to people in the career or industry that you’re pursuing will help you get clarity and check your assumptions.

        Here are some questions to help you get clear on your career change:

        • What’s your ideal work environment?
        • What’s most important to you right now?
        • What type of people do you like to work with?
        • What are the work skills that you enjoy doing the most?
        • What do you like to do so much that you lose track of time?
        • Whose career inspires you? What is it about his/her career that you admire?
        • What do you dislike about your current role and work environment?

        Step 2: Get Clear on What Your Transferable Skills Are[2]

        The data gathered from your research and informational interviews will give you a clear picture of the career change that you want. There will likely be a gap between your current experience and the experience required for your desired job. This is your chance to tell your personal story and make it easy for recruiters to understand the logic behind your career change.

        Make a list and describe your existing skills and experience. Ask yourself:

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        What experience do you have that is relevant to the new job or industry?

        Include any experience e.g., work, community, volunteer, or helping a neighbour. The key here is ANY relevant experience. Don’t be afraid to list any tasks that may seem minor to you right now. Remember this is about showcasing the fact that you have experience in the new area of work.

        What will the hiring manager care about and how can you demonstrate this?

        Based on your research you’ll have an idea of what you’ll be doing in the new job or industry. Be specific and show how your existing experience and skills make you the best candidate for the job. Hiring managers will likely scan your resume in less than 7 seconds. Make it easy for them to see the connection between your skills and the skills that are needed.

        Clearly identifying your transferable skills and explaining the rationale for your career change shows the employer that you are making a serious and informed decision about your transition.

        Step 3: Read the Job Posting

        Each job application will be different even if they are for similar roles. Companies use different language to describe how they conduct business. For example, some companies use words like ‘systems’ while other companies use ‘processes’.

        When you review the job description, pay attention to the sections that describe WHAT you’ll be doing and the qualifications/skills. Take note of the type of language and words that the employer uses. You’ll want to use similar language in your resume to show that your experience meets their needs.

        5 Key Sections on Your Career Change Resume (Example)

        The content of the examples presented below are tailored for a high school educator who wants to change careers to become a client engagement manager, however, you can easily use the same structure for your career change resume.

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        Don’t forget to write a well crafted cover letter for your career change to match your updated resume. Your career change cover letter will provide the context and personal story that you’re not able to show in a resume.

        1. Contact Information and Header

        Create your own letterhead that includes your contact information. Remember to hyperlink your email and LinkedIn profile. Again, make it easy for the recruiter to contact you and learn more about you.

        Example:

        Jill Young

        Toronto, ON | [email protected] | 416.222.2222 | LinkedIn Profile

        2. Qualification Highlights or Summary

        This is the first section that recruiters will see to determine if you meet the qualifications for the job. Use the language from the job posting combined with your transferable skills to show that you are qualified for the role.

        Keep this section concise and use 3 to 4 bullets. Be specific and focus on the qualifications needed for the specific job that you’re applying to. This section should be tailored for each job application. What makes you qualified for the role?

        Example:

        Qualifications Summary

        • Experienced managing multiple stakeholder interests by building a strong network of relationships to support a variety of programs
        • Experienced at resolving problems in a timely and diplomatic manner
        • Ability to work with diverse groups and ensure collaboration while meeting tight timelines

        3. Work Experience

        Only present experiences that are relevant to the job posting. Focus on your specific transferable skills and how they apply to the new role.

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        How this section is structured will depend on your experience and the type of career change you are making.

        For example, if you are changing industries you may want to list your roles before the company name. However, if you want to highlight some of the big companies you’ve worked with then you may want to list the company name first. Just make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume.

        Be clear and concise. Use 1 to 4 bullets to highlight your relevant work experiences for each job you list on your resume. Ensure that the information demonstrates your qualifications for the new job. Remember to align all the dates on your resume to the right margin.

        Example:

        Work Experience

        Theater Production Manager 2018 – present

        YourLocalTheater

        • Collaborated with diverse groups of people to ensure a successful production while meeting tight timelines

        4. Education

        List your formal education in this section. For example, the name of the degrees you received and the school who issued it. To eliminate biases, I would recommend removing the year you graduated.

        Example:

        Education

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        • Bachelor of Education, University of Western Ontario
        • Bachelor of Theater Studies with Honors, University of British Columbia

        5. Other Activities or Interests

        When you took an inventory of your transferable skills, what experiences were relevant to your new career path (that may not fit in the other resume sections?).

        Example:

        Other Activities

        • Mentor, Pathways to Education
        • Volunteer lead for coordinating all community festival vendors

        Bonus Tips

        Remember these core resume tips to help you effectively showcase your transferable skills:

        • CAR (Context Action Result) method. Remember that each bullet on your resume needs to state the situation, the action you took and the result of your experience.
        • Font. Use modern Sans Serif fonts like Tahoma, Verdana, or Arial.
        • White space. Ensure that there is enough white space on your resume by adjusting your margins to a minimum of 1.5 cm. Your resume should be no more than two pages long.
        • Tailor your resume for each job posting. Pay attention to the language and key words used on the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly. Make the application process easy on yourself by creating your own resume template. Highlight sections that you need to tailor for each job application.
        • Get someone else to review your resume. Ideally you’d want to have someone with industry or hiring experience to provide you with insights to hone your resume. However, you also want to have someone proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors.

        The Bottom Line

        It’s essential that you know why you want to change careers. Setting this foundation not only helps you with your resume, but can also help you to change your cover letter, adjust your LinkedIn profile, network during your job search, and during interviews.

        Ensure that all the content on your resume is relevant for the specific job you’re applying to.

        Remember to focus on the job posting and your transferable skills. You have a wealth of experience to draw from – don’t discount any of it! It’s time to showcase and brand yourself in the direction you’re moving towards!

        More Resources to Help You Change Career Swiftly

        Featured photo credit: Parker Byrd via unsplash.com

        Reference

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