Employers love hiring the most experienced candidates for open positions.
But, how to get a job with no experience to build that work history to begin with?
While it sounds like a closed loop which you can’t shimmy your way into, it’s actually not as difficult as you might think. After all, everyone working today once began where you are!
In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the best tips for getting a job with no experience. Whether you’ve never worked in this particular field before or haven’t ever held a job, you’ll be on your way to building that all-important work experience in no time!
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1. Focus on Your Education
On a regular resume, your work history will go pretty close to the top in order to immediately show the hiring manager that you have relevant experience. On a resume with no experience, however, highlight your education section.
If you’re fresh out of high school and searching for a first job, list more than your school name and graduation date, if possible. Show off any awards and honors you’ve received, clubs you joined, and extracurricular activities you participated in—especially if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.
For college, both if you’ve earned your degree or you’re still studying, do the same, but take it even further. Emphasize your major (and your college minor, if you’ve declared one). Then, list a few of the courses you took most related to the job you seek (e.g., “CS2024: C++ Programming” if looking for an entry-level IT job).
2. Highlight Transferable Skills & Abilities
A work history section shows the employer you have certain skills, but it’s not the only way to highlight your abilities.
Include a skills section on your resume which includes those skills which are relevant to the job you’re applying for. These could be skills you picked up throughout life (soft skills like communication, for example) or those you’ve taken a class on in school (hard skills such as computer programming).
And, if you are wondering how to get a job without experience in that particular field (but you have worked in a different industry), find transferable skills which carry over well. For instance, say you worked as a hotel front desk receptionist during your college years and now are looking for a job in corporate sales. Some great transferable skills you could list might include communication skills, customer service skills, and collaboration skills.
3. Get Experience!
If you really want to bulk up your resume before applying for your first job, consider volunteering. While volunteering won’t provide you with a paycheck, it will give you real-life experience to put on your resume. You’ll develop career-defining skills, and you may even get a great reference letter that’ll set you apart from other applicants in a future job search.
Oh, and you’ll be helping people (or animals), your community, and a great cause while you’re at it!
4. Earn Attractive Certificates or Assessment Badges
You may not have experience, but it doesn’t mean you’re not capable of doing that job. Similar to volunteering to build up experience on a resume, find other areas which can show off your expertise in different ways.
For example, you can take a course in your field of interest and display your certificate on your LinkedIn profile. If you use Indeed or LinkedIn, there are even proprietary assessments there which you can complete (e.g., English proficiency, marketing knowledge) and show off the results on your page, as well.
Further, if you’re planning to head into a job where you may need a particular certification or license, get it now. For example, if that restaurant job you’re applying for will require you to receive food handling certification, having that already on your resume puts you a step ahead of your peers!
Related Read: How to Reply to a Job Offer
You may not have had real work experience yet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t build your professional network.
Start by setting up your profile on Goodwall and LinkedIn. Include as much information as you can about yourself in order to get found in more searches by employers and future colleagues. Add a profile picture and remember to keep it all professional. Once you’re done, connect with people the algorithms match you with, or seek out people in your industry and classmates from your school.
For those of your connections who are familiar with you (whether academically, professionally, or personally), reach out to them and ask them for a reference to add to your LinkedIn profile. While you’re at it, see if any of them know of an opening in your particular field. You never know—you may soon have an interview without ever once digitally stepping foot in one of the job search websites!
6. Don’t Lie About Your Lack of Experience!
This one is so important, I’ll ignore the fact it seems quite obvious: Whatever you do, don’t lie about your lack of experience.
Not only will your misleading or inaccurate information come to light sooner or later, but it may hurt all future chances at employment. Rather than lying on your resume, focus on what you bring to the table. Use your cover letter to portray your motivation, determination, willingness to learn, and work ethic.
7. Try Not to Worry (& Just Go for It)
Easier said than done, right?
Sure, but here’s the thing: when you’re applying for entry-level positions, hiring managers and recruiters know the candidates won’t have too much (or any) experience. They’re expecting it. As we said at the beginning, everyone working today once had a resume with no experience just like yourself.
If and when you make it to your job interview, explain why hiring you is still their best choice, experienced or not. Show them you’re full of enthusiasm, ideas, common sense, and a great work ethic. Highlight those skills you’ve developed elsewhere, and describe how they’d be useful in this particular work environment.
Chances are, you’ll have that job offer in no time at all!
We hoped this article on how to get a job with no experience (or little experience) helps you, and we’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have any questions, feedback, or other tips on getting a job without experience, leave us a note in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!