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HomeMoney Making10 Tips to Get a Job With No Experience

10 Tips to Get a Job With No Experience

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Landing a job without an entire career’s worth of credentials is not an impossible feat. In fact, it’s the foundation of every professional’s career.

And while knowing that everyone else has had to do it doesn’t make it any less stressful for you, you can use some best practices that have helped others land jobs without experience and do the same.

We’ve gathered steps to help you get a job even when you don’t have several years of experience backing you up. Whether you’re a new graduate or looking to make a career change, this guide is for you.

The key to finding a job without experience is to be intentional in your job search strategy so you’re set up for success when you submit your resume.

1. Lean on Your Skills and Knowledge

Happy woman working her job from a desk
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Identifying your strengths is one of the first steps in learning how to get a job with no experience. From excellent communication to deep data analysis, focus on the transferable skills you have beyond what’s listed on your resume.

Use your cover letter to explain that, while you realize your experience doesn’t perfectly match the job posting, your skills and qualifications will be valuable assets to the company.

Start with your hard skills, or technical skills, such as industry software and tools you’ve mastered. Then, move into your soft skills, like time management and problem-solving. And if you’ll be working in a team environment, include interpersonal skills as well.

Shifting the focus away from what you don’t have to the skills you do have helps the hiring manager picture how you will perform in the role using your unique experiences.

2. Emphasize Your Education

2-year degrees can lead to great jobs
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Your education signifies more than just attending high school or college. It demonstrates your dedication to exploring a field, your commitment to intellectual growth, and your critical thinking abilities.

A glowing transcript isn’t likely to land you a job on its own, but it can be an excellent foundation for your application materials.

Beyond formal education, though, ensure you include incidental education. That might be summer classes or hobbies you’ve focused on that make you more competitive.

Brainstorm all of the knowledge you have by answering the following questions:

  • What courses have I taken that are relevant to the job?
  • What skills have I acquired through extracurricular activities or hobbies?
  • Have I completed any certifications that demonstrate my expertise in a certain area?

3. Rely on Your Network

A women holds Apple iPhone with LinkedIn application on the screen.
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The power of people in your corner should be considered. Perhaps a family friend knows of a vacancy, or a former professor can vouch for your work ethic and help you tap into the hidden job market.

In addition to connecting with people who know about open roles, networking can also connect you with people in the field who know what kinds of skills and experiences employers are looking for.

You may feel like you don’t have any professional connections, but you likely need to expand your idea of a networking contact.

Connections You May Already Have

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Consider if you have any of the following connections:

  • Former teachers and professors: Often, these individuals have seen your growth and can speak to your dedication and potential. They may also have industry connections.
  • Family friends: They know you beyond your resume, understand your character, and can be instrumental in introducing you to opportunities.
  • Coaches or club advisors: Your involvement in sports or clubs showcases transferable skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and commitment. These people can vouch for those qualities.
  • Alumni networks: Connect with graduates from your school who are already in the workforce. They can provide valuable career advice and might know of job openings.
  • Internship supervisors: If you’ve completed internships, your supervisors are key contacts who already understand your work style and strengths.
  • Volunteer coordinators: Volunteering demonstrates your initiative and passion. Coordinators can endorse these traits and may know professionals looking for someone like you.
  • Professional associations: Joining associations related to your field not only expands your knowledge but also your network. Events and conferences are great for meeting new contacts.
  • Social media connections: Platforms like LinkedIn allow you to connect with industry leaders and peers. Engage with content relevant to your field to increase visibility.

Remember, networking is about building relationships, not just collecting contacts. Approach each interaction with sincerity, curiosity, and the objective to learn. Your network will grow, and so will opportunities along your career path.

4. Focus on Entry-Level Jobs

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Have you taken the time to work backward from your ideal job when you’re trying to figure out how to get the job you want? The job you’re hoping to have in five to 10 years?

As you work backward to the supporting roles that will set you up for success, you can target an entry-level role that is more achievable without any experience.

Start by reading a job description for your dream role. What experience is listed as a requirement? Use that information to work backward to find entry-level roles where you can start building your resume.

For example, if your dream job is a remote job that requires three years of experience in marketing, look for entry-level remote roles that involve some aspect of marketing. Such roles may include social media specialist, content writer, or marketing assistant.

These positions will give you valuable experience and help you build the skills to eventually land your dream job.

Along with internships, many entry-level jobs offer on-the-job training. Look through employee reviews and read job descriptions carefully to find the roles that welcome professionals new to the field.

5. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

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Your resume is your professional story of who you are and what you can do. Research shows you have less than 10 seconds to snag a hiring manager’s attention. Rather than allow that to intimidate you, try to view that as motivation.

Envision yourself as a hiring manager looking to fill a role. Ask yourself what would make you pause and take a second look.

When you understand the nuances of a role, you can effectively tailor your resume and cover letter to stand out from the competition. You’ll find that information through your research.

Look for keywords and skills in the job description used repeatedly. Then, set a time limit of 10 minutes and quickly look through the company’s website and social media to get a feel for its company culture, mission, and products.

Make sure to highlight those in your resume and cover letter. Doing so shows you have the necessary skills and have taken the time to do your research.

6. Create a Portfolio

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A digital portfolio is a walking, talking resume — particularly in fields with tangible outputs, such as design or writing. Having a substantial showcase of the work you’ve done helps share your evolution as a professional.

Even if you’re not in a creative field, you can still be creative in how you display your experience.

Consider building a one-page personal website that shares more of your personality. You might highlight personal interests or nonprofit causes you’re passionate about.

Instead of using a website, you can ensure your LinkedIn profile is filled out completely. Take the initiative to add images to your experience and include any volunteer work you’ve completed.

7. Gain Certifications or Take Courses

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It’s always beneficial to have new skills under your belt as you’re trying to determine how to find a job with no experience.

Consider enrolling in online courses or seeking out certifications related to your field. Not only will this show potential employers that you’re dedicated to continuous growth, but it can also help broaden your skill set and make you stand out from other candidates.

Additionally, consider attending workshops or networking events to expand your knowledge and industry connections.

Certifications don’t always have to cost money, either. Is there specific software utilized in your industry? What about communication and collaboration tools if you’re seeking a remote job? Visit those websites and look for tutorials.

If there are certifications you can take when you’ve mastered the software or process, that’s an excellent opportunity to add some weight to your resume.

For example, Google offers certifications for Google Ads, Google Search, Google Cloud Architecture, and more. Likewise, the HubSpot Academy offers courses in social media, inbound marketing, and digital advertising.

8. Build Experience

Young man wearing a headset working at a laptop
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It’s that old catch-22 you keep running into as you’re applying for jobs with no experience. You need experience to land a job, but you can only get experience with a job.

To fill in the gaps in your resume, you should be creative and look beyond a traditional job.

Full-time jobs aren’t the only way to build career experience. You can also try:

  • Contract jobs
  • Freelancing
  • Internships
  • Part-time jobs
  • Seasonal roles
  • Temporary positions
  • Volunteering

You gain experience, skills, and industry insights to help you stand out in your job search and interviews.

9. Develop a Job Search Plan

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Curious about how to apply to a job with no experience? The answer: less is more. Mass-applying to jobs whenever you’re desperate rarely lands you a quality job — or any job, for that matter.

Instead, devise a plan to get organized and efficient. To structure your job search, ask yourself questions like:

  • How many applications do I want to complete in a day or a week? (Quality over quantity. Be realistic about how many high-quality submissions you can create.)
  • What companies do I prioritize? (Start building a plan to network and ask for informational interviews.)
  • Which skills do I need to develop? (Create a learning plan with a realistic timeline.)
  • How will I ensure I’m following up? (Devote time to following up within a week.)
  • How much time will I devote daily to my job search? (Schedule that in.)

10. Ask (and Implement) Feedback

Woman on a laptop for a video call
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Look for feedback everywhere. If you’re a recent graduate, ask your professors for feedback on how you could have improved your communication.

Do you have professional hiring managers or recruiters in your family or among your friends? Offer them a coffee in exchange for a resume review and any tips they might have.

If you’ve had interviews that didn’t result in a job offer, request feedback. Be a gracious recipient of constructive feedback.

Then, consider asking a friend or career coach to help you practice your interview skills through some mock interviews.

Implement their feedback and critiques in your following interview. A cycle of application and refinement is one of the key factors in how to get a job without experience.

10 Tips for Applying for Jobs With No Experience

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Finding a job is challenging, especially if you don’t have prior experience. But don’t let that discourage you!

With the right plan and mindset, you can still land a great job even without much experience under your belt. Use these tips to help you apply for jobs with no experience.

1. Keep an Open Mind

A young man smiles while sitting at his laptop and taking notes
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Navigating the job market without work experience requires an open mind to expand your opportunities. Begin by identifying your transferable skills and what roles you can land to help you build on those skills if you’re not yet qualified for your dream role.

Following that thought process, if you’re unable to land the entry-level role you’re pursuing, research alternative industries that are less competitive. Consider growing sectors, and look for entry-level positions that align with your skills and interests.

For instance, could you expand your search area for a remote job to companies that offer work-from-anywhere roles with no location requirements?

Embracing less direct routes can offer invaluable experience and lead to unexpected opportunities.

Stay adaptable and open to paths that may not have been your first choice, as they could lead to exciting and unexpected places.

2. Read Job Descriptions Thoroughly

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Beyond the buzzwords, job listings have some essential details. Read between the lines for the particular expertise and traits that are valued.

  • Think about how your skills align with the job requirements.
  • Focus on the outcome and responsibilities, rather than just the job title or company.
  • Note which qualifications are required versus preferred.
  • Research common keywords used in similar job postings to get a better understanding of what employers are looking for.
  • Pay attention to any additional instructions or requirements for applying, such as submitting a portfolio or completing pre-employment tests.

Thoroughly analyzing job descriptions allows you to identify areas where you need to gain more experience or skills and tailor your application more thoroughly.

Remember, most job seekers rarely check every single box on a hiring manager’s wish list. If you have the potential to excel in a role despite lacking one specific qualification, don’t be afraid to apply.

3. Apply to the Right Jobs

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You wouldn’t send a resume full of marketing achievements to a coding competition, right? Likewise, you should only apply to positions for which you can reasonably argue your potential benefit.

Employers can smell a generic application from a mile away, and you don’t want to be a generic applicant.

As you’re exploring job postings, use the following guidelines to ensure you’re applying to the right jobs:

  • Carefully read the job description and requirements. If your skills align with at least 60% of the listed qualifications, apply.
  • Research the company to ensure their values, culture, and work environment create a professional space where you’ll thrive.
  • Double-check your long-term career development plan to ensure each job aligns with your goals and values.

4. Don’t Limit Yourself

Senior using a laptop
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You don’t need to meet 100% of the qualifications to excel in a role. Employers want to hire people who are willing to learn and grow. This growth mindset is essential not just to the company’s success but to your success too.

The more you’re ready to learn and grow, the more professional success you’ll achieve.

Mention this growth mindset in your application. Talk about how you’ve pursued education or certifications relevant to the role.

Or, mention that you’re eager to learn as part of your employment. Reassure the hiring manager that you’ll do the work necessary to succeed.

5. Ask for a Recommendation or Employee Referral

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Do you know anyone who works for the company? Scour your alumni network and check in with friends, family, and previous colleagues.

What about your networking connections? Ask around to find people who have experience with the company you’re applying to. If possible, ask for a recommendation or referral. Employee referrals are often the ticket to landing a hard-to-win interview.

People are often willing to share their experiences and offer advice or guidance, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help.

6. Tailor Your Resume

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Take the time to customize your resume to fit each position. You don’t need to start from scratch, but you do need to update your resume with relevant keywords.

Consider using the same skills and language used in the job description to make it easier for the hiring manager to understand your qualifications.

First, consider whether or not you can update your current title to match the role. If it’s just a matter of semantics, then it’s OK to adjust. If it’s stretching the truth or outright lying, that’s a no-go.

Highlight any achievements or projects that directly align with the job responsibilities. Doing so helps you stand out from other applicants and show off your capabilities.

Remember, your resume is a marketing tool — use it to your advantage by tailoring it to the specific position you’re applying for.

Utilizing your research and resume keywords can help you beat the applicant tracking systems that so many employers use to screen resumes. Then, once your resume lands on a hiring manager’s desk, it’s up to your cover letter to get them to take a longer look.

7. Customize Each Cover Letter

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Customize your cover letter to the company’s ethos and the role’s responsibility. Show them that you aren’t just looking for a job but a professional home where you can grow and build connections.

Use these actionable tips to write a cover letter that creates curiosity in the hiring manager:

  • Research the company and its values: Review your research before writing your cover letter. Look for the company’s mission statement, core values, and recent news or updates. Your research helps you understand its culture and what it looks for in employees. If you know the hiring manager’s name, look to see if they have a LinkedIn profile you can glance through.
  • Tailor your intro paragraph: Start strong by mentioning something specific about the company that caught your attention and how it aligns with your values or goals.
  • Highlight relevant skills: Just like with your resume, use keywords from the job description to emphasize any knowledge or skills directly related to the position. Instead of simply stating everything on your resume again, use your cover letter to add additional information. That might better explain how your skills fit or why your interests add to your suitability.
  • Show off your personality: Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch to your cover letter. Share a brief anecdote or personalize why you are interested in the company.
  • Keep it concise: A cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep it clear and concise. Avoid repeating information from your resume, and focus on highlighting your qualifications and how they make you a perfect fit for the job.

Following these tips, you can create a custom cover letter showcasing your enthusiasm for the role and highlighting your relevant skills and qualifications.

8. Demonstrate Your Intent

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Objectives and passion statements are lovely, but a forward-thinking plan is inspiring. How do you envision the role evolving, and how do you plan on growing with it? This road map communicates your interest in more than just a paycheck.

Demonstrate your intent by briefly outlining your long-term career goals and how this position fits them. Show that you have thought about the company’s future and how you can contribute to its growth.

Dedication and a desire for career development are attractive qualities to employers.

Additionally, mention any specific skills or knowledge you hope to gain from the role and how it aligns with your personal and professional aspirations. Show that you are looking for a job now but are also in the market for a meaningful and fulfilling career path.

Be sure to tie your accomplishments into your future goals to highlight how they’ve prepared you for this position and will continue to help you grow and succeed within the company.

9. Show Enthusiasm

Woman on a remote call
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It’s OK to get excited about a role. In fact, it’s one of the characteristics that will help you stand out as the top candidate in a competitive job market.

Express your enthusiasm for the position and company by using positive language and showcasing your knowledge of the company and its mission. Go beyond the basics that are on the front page of the website.

As the hiring process progresses, your research should get more in-depth to allow for more targeted conversations. You’ll convey genuine interest and investment in the role, making you a more appealing candidate.

You can also share any personal connections or experiences with the company that sparked your interest in working for them.

Use your body language in the interview to show you’re engaged. Have thoughtful questions ready for the hiring manager, and respond to emails and communications promptly.

10. Have References on Hand

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Line up your professional references ahead of time. Before you hand them over, reach out and talk to your references regarding your upcoming interview. Ensure they don’t have any vacations coming up and will be able to respond to the hiring manager.

Have names and numbers ready for potential employers who want to confirm your character and work quality.

If you cannot provide references from previous jobs, consider contacting professors, mentors, or volunteer supervisors who can speak to your skills and character.

Remember to thank your references for their time and let them know the outcome of the interview process.

Maintaining good relationships with those in your network is essential throughout your career. Quality professional references can help compensate for resume gaps and give you the boost you need to get your foot in the door.

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