Anyone starting out in their working life will encounter a dreaded paradox: you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t have experience without a job. It’s a typical and discouraging vicious circle that seems almost impossible to overcome. Almost. Our 11 tips for getting a job without experience can help you succeed in a reasonable period of time (job search takes time!).
1. SELF-EDUCATE YOURSELF
Sign up for classes, attend workshops, get certificates and diplomas and, if necessary, get a college degree. This will not only help you acquire knowledge for the job, but will also demonstrate your dedication and commitment. Plus: meeting professors and students is a great way to expand your network.
2. START WORKING (FROM THE BOTTOM)
Another way to get some experience in a specific area is to work for little or no money – it doesn’t sound very motivating, but hey, it could help you open all kinds of doors: you can get practical training by volunteering, with an internship or on your own. Depending on the career, a good idea would be to make a blog or collaborate on it to show your passion and talent. In short: include in your resume and portfolio relevant projects you have done part-time, on weekends or during vacation periods.
3. WORK YOUR NETWORK
A good way to get a job is to be recommended by someone or to know a friend of a friend. For this to happen, you have to build a network of contacts and cultivate it, both online and offline: make sure people know you are developing a specific career and be prepared by making a sales pitch, updating your resume and making a great LinkedIn profile.
4. LET’S DRAW!
It’s time to grab paper and pencil to make a great Venn diagram to help you chart your path to success: make a list of all the skills, experience and personal aspects required in your future job. Then add your knowledge, experience and personal aspects, and see where the two circles overlap. You can use this as a reference to know what you need to improve and what you can highlight in your resume and cover letter.
5. BECOME AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD
Learn everything there is to know about the industry and the position. This will not only prepare you for the career, but will also help you with networking and job interviews. To become an expert in your field, interact in forums, read blogs and join groups, both online and offline. Also make sure you know some key names in the business, online and offline, locally, nationally and even internationally.
6. PICK MINDS
People love to give advice and be seen as specialists or experts in a given field. Once you know the names of professionals you admire who have the career you want, try contacting them online or, if you’re old school, with a written note, for example. A good way to make people feel important and valued is to ask what your next steps are. Don’t just send lots of emails with your resume, everyone is busy, inboxes are full. Always establish a connection before asking for advice or even favors.
7. HAVE A GOOD STORY TO TELL
Make sure you have a story about your early career that is fascinating and makes it clear that you are the perfect person for any position in a specific field. People will ask questions (lots of questions!), so prepare clear and concise answers about why you want to get into that field, what you will do to achieve that goal, and what you have to offer. This way you will impress them with your passion, spill all your important knowledge and experience, top it off with your studies and convince everyone you talk to.
8. RENEW YOUR RÉSUMÉ
And, while we’re at it, make sure your resume reflects the key parts of that story. Focus on your skills and abilities and not just your jobs: make a resume that doesn’t get stuck in the past, but looks forward and shows everything you can contribute to in the future.
9. FOCUS ON YOUR SOFT SKILLS
Transferable skills can be, surprise surprise, transferred from one situation or job to others, and show how you interact with people. Examples of these soft skills are interpersonal skills, organizational ability, leadership ability and communication skills. Focus on your ability to motivate people, multitask, supervise or speak in public. Make a resume that oozes personality and showcase your social skills in all their job-related glory. If you can show why a certain social competence will make it easier for you to acquire a specific skill, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
10. AIM REASONABLY HIGH
While you should always aim high when it comes to your career, it’s also important to use common sense when applying for a job. You’re just starting out, so look for entry-level positions where you can demonstrate that you know how to do the job. Make it clear that you know you’re just starting out, but that you’re willing to learn, and add an irresistible amount of enthusiasm, passion and determination.
11. PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER!
Be patient, and be willing to start at the bottom. Getting one foot in the door, and then the rest, can take time. It can also be exhausting and seem like a half-baked idea at the time, but if it’s what you really want to do and it makes you happy, go for it!