Updated: Aug 14
I remember the end of my college days, where my classmates and I all began the job search. At first, it was exciting. But over time, it felt like I caught in an endless loop, where job requisitions would ask for experience, even for entry-level work.
But how are you to gain experience without getting hired to work a job?
I made it out the end of this never-ending loop, and you can too! With this in mind, here are eight tips to get good jobs without any relevant work experience.
How I got a job with no experience
Everyone has to start somewhere. And though I am five years removed from my first entry-level role, I remember the feeling like it was yesterday.
Here are eight steps that I used to get my first job with no experience.
1. Craft a resume narrative
Common convention dictates that you should keep your resume to one page, but even this one page has the power to change minds. If you’re looking for a job without any relevant work experience, that’s okay.
You don’t have to shy away and pretend that you do. Instead, it is always a better option to focus on those parts of your resume that you can control, including your professional summary, your educational or other achievements, and the skill set that you have built.
When I graduated with a degree in finance, I made sure to tailor my resume to include the specific skills that I had learned and acquired while in college. These soft and hard skills make you more marketable to many employers than work experience anyway.
2. Search for entry level roles
Regardless of whether or not you went to college, you will begin working without any prior experience.
This means that, to get a job offer, you’ll need to be reasonable with your search. For example, you are unlikely to be hired for any sort of management or highly technical job function right off the bat. Instead, it can be a good idea to look for roles of an entry-level nature.
When I was applying for entry-level roles, I became discouraged, by the fact that many employers still requested two years of experience in the job posting.
After I got hired and entered Corporate America, though, I realized that these descriptions were often times reused and recycled across roles and organizations. This was actually good news, as the employers I interviewed with were really reasonable and understanding that everyone has to start a career somewhere.
3. Work on your interview skills
In my mind, this is the biggest key to getting a job with no experience. Job interviews are a great time for you to show off your soft skills and to talk about your heart skills.
If you are young and come across as a great communicator and mature beyond your years, you are far more likely to be offered a job.
This was where I doubled down as I was graduating college. I focused solely on building a rapport with hiring managers and trying to separate myself from the common stereotypes surrounding my generation.
To be successful in your interview process, I encourage you to come across as personable, engaged, mature, and perhaps, most importantly, inquisitive.
Make sure to do all the little things, like writing thank you notes, asking questions, and taking diligent notes during an interview.
Many of the hiring managers that I know have told me that they would rather roll with an inquisitive mind with no experience than someone with no interest to learn.
4. Connect with others
In hindsight, I did not do as well with connecting with others as I could have.
But doing many of the little things can help set you apart. For instance, attending networking events, even when they feel awkward and forced, can be an excellent way for you to meet others.
I always hated events like this, but now I wonder how the progression of my career may have been different had I embraced the uncomfortable at a younger age.
5. Write cover letters
Many people feel as if cover letters are out of date, and that you only need to submit a resume when applying for a job.
And while there may be some truth to this, I still recommend cover letters to those applying for a job without relevant work experience. Here’s why.
Your cover letter will be the only opportunity that you get to speak directly to a hiring manager in an attempt to get an interview. It is your chance to share why a particular job interests you, why are you think you would be a good fit, and to demonstrate your interest in a job opening.
Over the past five years, I have tested this theory in my own career. Each time I’ve been ready for a new opportunity and have applied for jobs, I have written cover letters for those job openings I had serious interest in.
Conversely, I only submitted resumes for those roles I wasn’t quite as interested in.
I can definitively say that I have received more interviews for roles I submitted cover letters with than those roles that I did not.
6. Build your own experience
Thankfully, you can sometimes substitute relevant work experience with other personal or life experiences.
For example, thousands of Americans start blogs each year. And while some blogs generate enough income, that they can become full-time jobs, the majority do not. But often times, the successes that you do achieve may be enough to lead you to what's next.
Any success that you do have as far as attracting readers and making revenue can boost your profile as a write for national organizations and media sources.
For example, some personal finance bloggers in my niche have gone on to work for companies such as NerdWallet, Fortune, and other media sources. The experience in building your own blog and learning how to write content for search engines (SEO skills) may become more valuable than any other experience you may be able to get as a paid writer for an organization.
Like I said, you likely won't be able to take this job full-time, but you may be able to earn $30,000-$50,000 a year or so after you dedicate a couple of years to getting started.
In instances like these, building your own experience can lead you to your next job, all without normal and relevant work experience.
7. Pursue internships
If you're concerned or struggling to get a job with no experience, you may opt to pursue internships. Internships come in both paid and unpaid varieties, but they are as much about the experience and exposure as they are about the pay (or lack thereof).
I did work internships two summers during college, and my first job out of school was with the same financial services firm that I interned with.
While internships can be great exposure to a work environment, the real value in them isn't even in the experience that you gain or the knowledge that you learn, but in the people that you meet.
After all, you never know how quickly things can change and who may be hiring.
8. Invest in knowledge and skills
If you know that you're looking to make a career move into a field where you don't have as much experience as you'd like, it never hurts to invest in your knowledge and skills.
Don't be afraid to buy access to online courses to teach you hard skills that can set you apart as you enter this phase of your career.
For example, if you're looking to move into a technical programming role, you may learn skills in R Programming, SQL, Python, and other programming languages through sites like DataCamp.
For a trivial amount of money, you'll be able to boost your skills and your resume!
Good jobs with no experience
The jobs that I feel are best for recent graduates and those new to the workforce all share a few common traits. They offer:
Solid, if not spectacular, compensation
A decent work/life balance
Growth prospects in the long run
All this said, I recommend that you pursue the following good jobs, even in an entry-level environment:
Programming roles: You can learn many skills online.
Customer service representative: These roles can be a great gateway into more lucrative corporate positions.
Paralegal positions: These can be a great opportunity for aspiring lawyers to get their feet wet.
Getting a job without any relevant work experience does not have to be this herculean task that it often feels like.
By doing research, considering the careers I've mentioned here, and following my tips, you too have a great opportunity to stand out in a highly competitive workforce.
Now, I want to hear from you.
Have you ever successfully gotten a job with no experience? If so, what do you attribute to your success in landing the job? Tell me in the comments below!
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