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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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        Cris Antonio

        Content Strategist, Storyteller

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        Last Updated on March 25, 2020

        How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

        How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

        Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

        Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

        Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

        In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

        How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

        Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

        Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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        • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
        • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
        • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
        • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

        If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

        After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

        We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

        Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

        Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

        One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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        These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

        40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

        All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

        For Changing a Job

        1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
        2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
        3. Get a raise.
        4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
        5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
        6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
        7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
        8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
        9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
        10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

        For Switching Career Path

        1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
        2. Find a mentor.
        3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
        4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
        5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
        6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
        7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
        8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
        9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
        10. Create a financial plan.

        For Getting a Promotion

        1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
        2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
        3. Become a mentor.
        4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
        5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
        6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
        7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
        8. Become a better communicator.
        9. Find new ways to be a team player.
        10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

        For Acing a Job Interview

        1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
        2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
        3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
        4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
        5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
        6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
        7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
        8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
        9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
        10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

        Career Goal Setting FAQs

        I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

        1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

        If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

        If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

        How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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        2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

        Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

        Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

        Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

        3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

        You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

        Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

        4. Can I have several career goals?

        It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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        On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

        For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

        Summary

        You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

        • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
        • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
        • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
        • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
        • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

        By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

        More Tips About Setting Work Goals

        Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

        Reference

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