It can be daunting when you start applying for jobs and they all list a year or two's experience, experience you don't have, as a requirement. Don't worry though, there's still plenty you can do to offset your lack of experience.
1. Be Relevant
You may not have a lot of experience in the field you are applying for but, chances are, you have done other things. Although not directly relevant, think about the what is transferable to this position. For example, when I applied to a social media job that had a customer service element, I emphasized the time I spent managing a restaurant and the daily face-to-face customer care that entailed.
2. What Are Your Skills?
Think about what makes you special, what you're really good at or knowledgeable about. Then, think about how these things can be applied to the role you want to apply for. Don't expect to hit every bullet point on the job description but if you can cover a good proportion, you're in with a shot.
You should also promote your soft skills. This means how you operate socially and how well you get on with people. These things are at least as important as 'hard skills', if not more. A Harvard study found that people prefer to work with someone they get on with and a survey by Jobvite also found that 88% of recruiters see culture fit as an important factor when hiring.
3. Show Off Your Skills
Ways to do this include:
Changing the format of your resume Traditional resume formats emphasize your previous job experience (or lack of). Think about rearranging your resume to emphasize your skills, education or training instead. That way, the areas you are strong in will be the first thing an employer sees, instead of a sparse experience section. This is known as a skills-based resume. Don't just list skills, though. You should also offer evidence that you have them. Check out more resume writing tips over on our blog.
Making use of your cover letter Your cover letter is a chance for you to go into detail about why exactly you would be great at THIS role. A good way to go about this is to think carefully about each point from the job description and then in your cover letter show how you fulfill them.
Ask yourself these questions and then answer them in your cover letter:
- Why are you the right person for the job?
- What knowledge/skills do you have that can be used in the job?
- What experience from other areas can you transfer into this job?
It's also a good idea to explain why you are interested in that type of work if it's something you haven't done before. You should mention things you have read about the field, any relevant hobbies or related things you have taken the time to learn by yourself.
4. Be Social
LinkedIn As a professional network, this is an obvious place to turn to. As with your resume, you should arrange your profile to best show what you have to offer. When you're viewing your profile in editing mode, hover over any section of your profile (Summary, Languages, Education, etc.) with the mouse and you will see an icon on the right-hand side with arrows pointing up and down. If you click and hold this icon, you can drag and drop that section to change the order of your profile – an easy way to make the best parts more prominent.
You should also spend some time writing a really good summary. Like a cover letter, this is your chance to sell yourself. You can't be as specific as in a cover letter but think about the kind of skills likely to crop up in the jobs you are applying for and demonstrate how you have them.
Personal social networks Aside from the obvious necessity for being careful about what you post publicly, it's also worth mentioning on your personal networks that you are looking to work in a certain field or industry. You never know who might have a connection that could help you out. Click here for more details about building an online presence employers will love.
Even in the 21st century, not all networking takes place online. You can really boost your chances of finding a job by getting out there and meeting the right people. How do you find them? It's really easy to find events in your area using sites like Meetup and Eventbrite. Look for events that are related to the field or industry you want to join.
When you meet people talk about your interest in the field/industry, talk with confidence and ask for advice. Don't straight up ask for a job but learn as much as you can and cultivate relationships. If you’re worried about making a good impression at events, you can find some advice here.
6. Show Your Interest
Do some serious research on and keep up to date with the industry you want to become a part of. This knowledge will help you shine in an interview, positioning you as enthusiastic and driven. Even before the interview, you can share you new-found knowledge on Twitter and LinkedIn.
7. Don’t Lie!
It may seem tempting to embellish or even fabricate. Don't. Even if you manage to bluff your way through the interview process, it will quickly become apparent that you are out of your depth when you start the job. It's not worth it.
Remember, too, that companies are looking to invest in potential, as well as hire proven stars. Use the tips above to show them your potential and appear as a strong candidate.
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