Maybe you just graduated and you’re out in the market looking for your first real job. Or perhaps you’re looking for a career change and ready to try something total new. But either way, you’re probably facing a major challenge for job seekers – trying to get a job without experience.
Most employers want the easy hire. Someone with experience is easier to add to the staff. It's difficult to get a potential employer to trust in your passion and will to work. So how do you get experience if no one is willing to help you get it?
Experience can come in a wide array of ways. Though employers would prefer to have someone who has been in the industry with traditional experience, but that is not the only experience that employers value. You can demonstrate relevant experience for a job you want, even if you have never worked in that field. Here are a few ways to make that happen.
Define the skills needed for the job
First, you’re going to focus on the listed skills the potential employer is looking for. Next, determine how you would prioritize the skills in the job description and which are the most important? Make sure to ask someone for help, that currently works in the industry or teaches. Find out what they would you do if they were in your shoes with no experience trying to get this job? Once you have an understanding of the skills you need to succeed in that role, it’s time to build a foundation.
If you can’t find a job, work for free. We hear this all the time, but you need to earn a living. Though a volunteer position can be easier to find than an internship, when you volunteer as much as you can, you’ll not only gain valuable experience, but will also be able to build a network and get a foot in the door. Volunteering expands your skill base and your network, and you demonstrate a commitment to your new field and showcase your talent to prospective employers. Don't forget to apply for those internships as well. Unpaid or even paid internships are an excellent way for entry-level job seekers to gain concrete experience working in the field. Search through online job boards and company websites for internship opportunities.
Highlight all of your skills
What will make you stand out from the rest? Highlight examples of your dedication, curiosity, and commitment to learning and growth. People who are hiring are looking for people who are willing to work hard and want to learn. Remember to elaborate on your qualities, like friendliness, professionalism, responsiveness, confidence and follow-through. In addition, do not forget to list skills and accomplishments that may apply. Your computer skills, that can include working with operating systems, typing over 60 words per minute, office programs, blogging, content management systems, databases, graphic design and more. Your problem solving and research skills. Organizational or office management skills can also boast exceptional problem-solving skills. Managerial or leadership skills are important if you have ever led a project at your current job, But, it has to be coupled with humility and modesty. Remember, you have a beginner's mind. Show that you can do the job, but also show that you’re willing to learn. Strong soft skills can go a long way, because they can’t really be taught.
You do not have to get a formal graduate degree to make a career change, but any learning you do, including certifications or self-study, gives tangible proof to prospective employers of your genuine interest in a field. Academic experience also gives you skills and expertise, and if it requires group projects, lab work or assignments, it provides hands-on experience. Your professors and classmates also add to your network, and your school may know of employment opportunities.
Job seekers often think experience is everything. But employers have said a positive attitude and availability can outweigh work experience. Don't stress it. Avoid mentioning your lack of experience or that's all the employer will think about. Talk about how excited you are to start working and your willingness to learn.
If you’re genuinely interested in an industry or functional role, you will have experience with it. Passion projects, book knowledge, or volunteering. You will not have to convince employers of your potential because you will have proven your potential in the actions you have already taken. In taking on these steps, you will prove to yourself that you’re serious about your new direction.
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