When applying for jobs nowadays, we all hear one-word time and again; experience, experience, experience. It’s the reason students fresh out of uni are struggling to secure jobs. It may also be the reason you’re stuck in a career you don’t love. If the advice is anything to go by, it’s impossible to break into any new field without working in it first. But, of course, this leads us to the catch 22 of current employment. How can you get that experience if no one gives you a break first? Unless you’re lucky enough to have time for voluntary work, it can seem impossible to break into any new area nowadays.
But, while it isn’t wrong to say that experience matters, it might be an exaggeration to say that it’s the only way to get your application forward. After all, many people are still managing to start in new fields. While life can be tough for ex-students now, some of them do manage to land their dream jobs. And, people manage to break from careers they can’t stand every day. If experience mattered as much as they say, that just wouldn’t happen.
It goes without saying, then, that there must be some loopholes somewhere which make the experience debate null and void. Which means that you have every chance of landing your dream career, no matter how far it is from what you’re doing now.
The question is, what are these loopholes, and how can you make sure that they work for you?
There’s no denying that qualifications no longer hold the power they used to. Hence why many would argue that university isn’t the sure way into a job that it used to be. Indeed, a qualified applicant with no experience may struggle against someone who’s worked in that industry. But, that’s not to say qualifications don’t still hold more weight than we give them credit for. Plenty of managers still prefer these over anything else. This is especially true for young applicants. Even if you’re older and looking for a change, seeking qualifications now can be more useful than you might expect. By looking out for relevant courses, you prove your hard work ethic and your dedication to the field you’re looking to move to. In that sense, this is no different from what a qualified individual could prove. Most managers will appreciate that. Your best bet is to look for a qualification which applies to various companies in the area you’d like to work in. That way, it can support your application to multiple positions. Something like this project vanguards online PMP certification course could work well for this if project management is your new focus. Equally, a general business administration course could secure you a position in an office environment. All you need to do is make sure that those qualifications take center stage and make up for your lack of experience.
Let your personality do the talking
Being overly personable on a resume is never going to secure you a job. In that sense, you can forget quirky fonts and jokes all over your personal statement. But, that’s not to say you can’t still inject some personality. Use this as a platform to prove why you’re the best person for the job, even without experience on your side. This could mean highlighting personal skills which you could bring to the role. Things like patience or a natural leaning towards leadership can take you further than you know. Don’t discount the general resume must-haves either. Things like ‘good time management’ and ‘an ability to work in a team’ may seem cliche, but for a good reason. Everyone uses these key personal statements because they work. They can help a manager to visualize how you would fit into their work environment and team. And, that, paired with everything else in this article, could be what sees you securing that role over the other applicants. After all, experience can’t account for personality. The most experienced applicant going could be a terrible fit for that particular work environment. If that happens, your character is sure to stand a chance at shining through.
Focus on transferable skills
This may be your first job in this industry, but we’re going to take a punt that it isn’t the first position you’ve ever held. If you’re breaking away in later life, you may have had a fair few jobs before this one. As such, you have some experience skills which are sure to come in handy, even if they don’t seem relevant on the outset. The fact is that, in work, many of the skills we learn are more transferable than we realize. Like your personal statement, these may seem like cliches which aren’t worth mentioning, but trust us when we say that they are. By managing to make your experience seem relevant, you could actually cover for your lack of experience altogether. Manage that, and you may see your resume right up there with those who have worked in the field for 10+ years. But, what exactly are these transferable skills? They could be simple if that’s all you’ve got, like the ability to work to a deadline or the teamwork your past positions have required. Or, you may want to go into specific projects you worked on, and find ways to link them back to this new role. Did your client interactions teach you something which would be useful here? Were you required to attend networking events or pitch products to large boards? Were you ever in charge of other members of your team? These are all experiences which managers value, no matter which industry you gained them from. Find things like this to list with every job you’ve had, and a manager may (with a bit of luck) look past your actual lack of experience.
Make the most of your cover letter
Cover letters aren’t an essential part of all job applications. In fact, you’d often be better of keeping things as simple as possible with a straightforward resume. But, if you’re applying without experience, a covering letter could be the thing which takes you far. That’s because this is your chance to sell yourself outside of the confines of resume rules. You won’t need to fit your plea into ‘personal skills’ or ‘job history.’ Instead, you’ll be able to outline exactly why you think that you’re the best person for this job, experience or not. Of course, you still don’t want to go on for more than half a page or so. No employer has time for an essay when sorting through applications. They may even neglect to read anything which is too long. But, a short paragraph describing why you’re interested in that company in particular could be the thing which gives you the edge. At the very least, this would prove that you aren’t just applying blindly to any role. It also gives you a chance to state why you think you’re the best person for that particular position. Of course, you need to work hard to strike a balance here. You want to make yourself sound impressive without coming off as arrogant. If you manage that, though, the job could be as good as yours, even without your experience.
Master that interview
Let’s say that you’ve put the above into practice and put yourself very much in the hiring line. That’s all well and good until you get into the interview and show yourself to be much less experienced than every other interview stage applicant. The thing to remember is that, even if you secure an interview, you’re going head to head with the best. Their experience means that they’ll be able to answer every question in just the right way. They will have done this all before, after all. You, however, are a total newbie. Which is why it’s so essential that you master every aspect of that interview ahead of time. Of course, prepping for interviews is always tricky. You can’t know exactly what questions they’ll ask. But, you can consider the possibilities and perfect your answers to each. It can also be a huge help to do your research on the company. Believe it or not, knowing their origin story and work ethic could serve better than having experience to your name.
A final word
Obviously, if a position calls for specific experience, it’s probably not worth applying. But, many job openings don’t specify anything of the kind. Still, you’re sure to find that experienced applicants will gain the upper hand if you aren’t careful. Make sure that doesn’t happen by getting lost in these resume loopholes. While it may mean putting a little extra work in to start, it’s an effort which you’re sure to be grateful for when that job is finally yours. Even better, you’ll never need to worry about a lack of experience again once you get your foot in that door. At least, that’s the hope.