Starting a new career is nerve-wracking, whether you’re finding purpose after college or changing careers at a later age. And those nerves can feel even worse when you don’t have experience under your belt.
Before imposter syndrome takes over, think back to when you started school, a volunteer program, or even a new hobby. You probably felt intimidated to embark on a new path. But you overcame those fears and learned something new along the way. You’ve been here before and have what it takes to begin again.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is possible to get a job with no experience. You might even have more experience than you think. Most soft skills are transferable, and if you love learning new things, you’ll adjust to a new position in no time. But to get there, you need to find a job first.
Here’s how to get a job with no experience, with tips for tailoring your resume and interviewing for roles in new-to-you fields.
8 tips for getting a job with no experience
Maybe you’re entering the project management world with only retail experience, or maybe you’ve never had a job before and want to start climbing the ladder in the marketing world.
Either way, just because you haven’t worked in the position in the past doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes. You can present the skills you do have and start to develop the self-confidence you need to ace the job interview.
Try these eight tips to lay the groundwork for success:
1. Lean on your interpersonal skills
Nearly every position requires interpersonal skills. Though previous positions could have helped you build them, teamwork, problem-solving, and active listening all stem from life experience as well. And employers will be eager to hear about how you’ve used them in practice, even if outside of work.
You can also tailor your interpersonal skills to the positions you want to apply for. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment like a startup, highlight your adaptability skills and personality. Employers want to learn whether you’ll add to company culture, and interpersonal skills can give them the answer.
2. Highlight your transferable skills
Your transferable skills are ones you bring with you from one experience to the next. These include soft skills like conflict resolution, self-motivation, and decision-making, but they can also be technical ones like writing.
Maybe you were the team leader in a school project and learned you have a talent for leadership and communication. This is something you can tell employers about, even if it isn’t formal work experience.
Even if the job is entirely different from what you’ve done in the past, there’s always a way to spin your skill set to display competence. Highlight your abilities rather than focusing on the skills you’re missing. If you’re applying for an entry-level marketing position, try using your personal social media posts or hobbies such as photography to boost your employability.
3. Take courses
You don’t necessarily have to get a master’s degree, or even a second bachelor’s, to find a job in a new field. Certificates and short courses are excellent ways to revamp your resume and cover letter and show potential employers your work ethic. They can also help you beat imposter syndrome and make you feel more qualified.
Many colleges offer certificates through online learning and evening classes that cater to people already working full-time. You can also try short courses through platforms like Udemy and Coursera to brush up on your skills and earn a badge to put on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
4. Tap into your network
Research suggests that networking helps fill 80% of positions, so if you’re looking for a job, your peers and past colleagues are great places to start. Use networking platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with coworkers, classmates, and professionals in your field. Cold connecting is intimidating, but it puts you out there and gives you the chance to start conversations with potential mentors.
A professional network could give you access to new positions before companies post them on job boards, giving you the upper hand. Connections can also put in a good word for you at their current company or use their own network to point you in the right direction. You can also take an in-person approach by attending networking events in your community.
Networking is a two-way street. Nurturing your relationships and helping others is as important as receiving help yourself. When you treat others with respect and show that you’re a great collaborator, they’ll be more receptive to giving you references and referrals in the future. You can do this by offering your expertise to help them with their personal projects and celebrating their achievements.
5. Tailor your resume
Your resume is your chance to show an employer why they should value your skills and life experience, so take advantage of it. If your experience section is short, add content to other sections like skills and education, and write a career statement that highlights your goals and best qualities.
Tailor different types of resumes to specific positions, and include keywords from the job posting. Companies often use automated hiring tools like applicant tracking systems (ATS), so mirroring the language and exact terms can help your application get through.
6. Apply for entry-level jobs
It’s easy to feel impatient when you don’t have enough experience to apply for high-level positions right away. But entry-level jobs can still be fulfilling.
Maybe a lower-level position isn’t your end goal, but focusing on no-experience jobs first gives you the exposure you need to land something bigger and better. Entry-level jobs are an opportunity to develop new skills and get your foot in the door of a company you want to work for.
You can find entry-level no-experience jobs by searching “entry-level,” “junior,” or even “intern” on job search platforms. Try researching the most junior positions that could lead to your dream job and looking for those as well. If you want to become a marketing manager, you can start as a social media content creator or marketing assistant and move up from there.
7. Develop skills during your free time
If you’re struggling to land an entry-level job, or the job search is taking longer than you thought, that’s okay. Reaching your goals takes time. Use free moments to develop more skills and enhance your resume.
This could include volunteering, assisting someone in a senior position, or practicing new skills at home. If you want to become a web developer, try coding your own projects and gaining experience on your own time.
8. Create a portfolio
A portfolio is a great way to show employers what you can do, whether that’s designing intriguing infographics or coding complex software.
This is particularly important for creative fields that center around your visual identity. You can showcase your work on a personal website, in a PDF file, or as a hard copy to express your personality and stand out from the crowd.
6 interesting no-experience jobs
Just because a job is entry-level doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting. You can find fulfilling positions that give you the skills you need to climb the ladder in any industry, whether they’re in-person office jobs or work-from-home positions.
Here are six no-experience jobs to set you up on a new career path and develop valuable skills:
1. Customer service
If you love helping others and are a patient person, try becoming a customer service representative. You’ll interact with customers and provide useful information to support them and resolve their concerns. You can work in customer service in person, via telephone, or by chat, depending on the company.
Most employers will provide on-site training to give you everything you need to perform well, which means you don’t need a lot of work experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), customer service representatives earn a median annual wage of $36,920 in the US and can work in nearly every industry. This job is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door.
2. Sales associate
Becoming a sales associate is a fantastic way to break into a particular industry. Retail work creates a foundation for fashion-related jobs, and selling tech products can inspire a career in hardware engineering.
Sales associates work one-on-one with customers to learn their unique needs and recommend products or services to meet them. If you’re persuasive and engaging, you’ll stand out to hiring managers for this role.
Although the industry you work in has a lot to do with the salary range, the BLS reports that retail sales workers earn a median annual wage of GHS 29,180. Some businesses offer their employees commission pay on top of their base salary as an incentive for reaching their sales targets, while others offer just one or the other.
3. Virtual assistant
If you want to work from home with no experience and organization is one of your strengths, you might enjoy working as a virtual assistant. In this role, you’ll perform administrative tasks for an individual client, like planning work trips, making phone calls, and scheduling appointments.
Along with possessing strong bookkeeping and time management skills, you should work well independently and under pressure. According to Glassdoor, the average annual wage for virtual assistants is Ghs 41,252, although the individual you’re assisting plays a huge factor in your compensation.
Copywriters write text for blogs, articles, or web content to increase brand awareness and aid marketing efforts. Becoming a copywriter requires strong written communication skills, a meticulous eye, and creativity. Like some of the other positions above, it familiarizes you with an industry and gives you the knowledge you need to potentially move up.
The BLS reports that writers earn a median annual wage of Ghs 69,510. Copywriting is often gig-based, so the range varies depending on your client base and how many hours you choose to work.
5. Public relations assistant
If you have a knack for social media, event planning, and presenting, a role as a public relations (PR) assistant incorporates all of your talents.
In this role, you’ll assist the PR team by conducting tasks such as writing press releases and brainstorming risk management strategies. These positions require a creative mind, strong people skills, and an eye for aesthetics.
While employers prefer a bachelor’s degree for this role, there are PR professional development certificates and courses that can give your resume a competitive advantage. Public relations specialists earn a median annual wage of GHS 62,800, according to the BLS.
6. Social media manager
As a social media manager, your daily tasks may include taking photos, scheduling content, and writing copy for captions and posts. People in this role can work in nearly any type of company or industry, which makes it a great option if you’re just starting out.
Employers often only want to see that you’re proficient in running social media accounts, which doesn’t require extensive work experience. You can show off personal or extracurricular accounts, or create a vision board and post examples as part of your portfolio.
In this role, you may work in-house or remotely, and you might have the opportunity to attend industry events to capture and share behind-the-scenes moments. Glassdoor reports that social media managers earn a median annual wage of $47,738, but those who have more work experience can easily earn over $80,000.
How to make a resume with no experience: 3 tips
Your resume is often your first impression with a new employer, so make that page count. Write a resume that stands out and highlights your transferable skills, all while tailoring it to individual job descriptions.
Use these three key points to craft a resume without work experience:
- Emphasize your academic achievements: Highlight a strong grade point average (GPA) or any honors achievements to show your ability to work hard. You can also list courses, certificates, or related projects that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
- Spotlight your skills: Review the position’s job description and use those skills on your resume. This could include leadership, time management, and public speaking. Just remember to be honest and only include skills that you can prove you have. You don’t want to land the job and feel stranded and unqualified.
- Make your experience relevant: Experience isn’t just about holding a particular job title. If you volunteered at a community garden but are applying for a PR assistant position, you can explain how it taught you organizational skills and how to work hard. Spin your experience to work for you (but don’t stretch the truth).
How to prepare for an interview when you don’t have experience
Job interviews are already nerve-wracking, and without experience under your belt, they might even feel impossible.
But this is your chance to practice and slowly build your confidence. If you’re applying for an entry-level position, nobody expects you to give a perfect interview. Just be yourself and explain the skills you know you already have.
Here are some tips that could turn your interview into a job offer, even if you don’t have experience:
- Research the company: This will show the hiring manager that you’re invested in the business and eager for a position.Knowing what the company’s values are and what it’s accomplished is a surefire way to stand out. You could talk about a specific project that attracted you and how you could contribute to a similar one.
- Emphasize your strengths: Focus on why you’re qualified for the position rather than not, and uplift yourself by believing in your capabilities.Before an interview, try creating a list of why you’re well-suited for the particular job, what accomplishments you’re proud of, and your skills. Just a simple reminder before the interview can give you a positive attitude.
- Practice your answers: Practice the STAR interview method to explain how you’ve solved problems or shown off your skills in the past.This is a good tactic for common behavioral interview questions, like “Tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult person” or “Explain a mistake you made and how you fixed it.” Practicing your answers with a friend or family member will help you answer them effectively.
Everyone starts somewhere
Whether you’re new to the job market or looking for a fresh start in your professional career, knowing how to get a job with no experience will increase your chances of getting hired. By focusing on your strengths and preparing adequately, you’ll unlock your full potential and feel confident in your next career transition.
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