How to get a job with no experience (4 accessible strategies)

Whether you’re looking for your first job or switching careers, it’s possible to land that job you’re after no matter how sparse your resume is. You don’t have to offer free labor, go back to school, or rely on the generosity of others, either. If you’re willing to put in the effort, these methods can help you secure a job like a true professional. 

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Table of Contents

Sell your skills, not your experience

sell-skills

If you lack formal work experience, it doesn’t mean you lack the skills required to do a job. When you have little to no work history, especially in a relevant field, you need to explain to the employer how your skills meet their needs. 

Resumes aren’t just for rattling off jobs. If you tweak the layout a bit, you can put emphasis on a “Skills” section that lists out your top skills. For a very weak resume, consider two different skills sections, one for soft skills (personality qualities like good communication) and one for hard skills (knowledge and abilities like the design tools you use). 

  • When listing your skills, don’t just pull out things like “Proficient in MS Word.” The skills should be relevant to the position you’re applying for and demonstrate your unique capabilities. 
  • If you don’t feel like you have the skills you need, look for keywords in the job description then use a free resource (like YouTube) to learn about them.
  • Think back to extracurricular activities and personal interests that show your skills at work. You can sometimes list these instances in the experience section of your resume.
  • If you expect to be on the job hunt for more than a couple of weeks, consider volunteering in the meantime at a place where you can put your skills to work. This can also be added to your resume.

While you should never overstate your abilities, you can quickly pick up a new skill while waiting for an interview and, eventually, while waiting for your new job to begin. Remember: Most people are lazy. Some experienced people won’t bother to skill up, and many inexperienced people expect to learn on the job. Make an effort to strengthen your abilities and you’ll stand out for it. 

Create work samples “on spec”

Showing your work is an excellent way to stand out, especially in cases where your resume looks “thin.” If you’re in an industry where a portfolio can be included to showcase your personal and professional projects, always share one. However, there’s a concept called “spec work” where you do some work for a dream client — one that hasn’t necessarily hired you.

  1. Identify a well-known company in the industry you’re looking to work in.

    For instance, if you’re trying to enter the consumer product marketing space, you could choose Nike, Dove, or Apple.

  2. Consider the types of work you would be doing in your new role.

    Get specific; if the job description for a product marketer focuses on overall strategy, you don’t want to deliver social media copy, which is more the work of a content marketer or writer.

  3. Don’t hold back on your sample.

    You might spend many hours creating it, and that’s a good thing. This sample can be reused over and over again with each similar job application.

  4. Be sure to add information about the spec and include a watermark.

    Ideally, you’ll go beyond a basic document and compile all of your relevant samples into an aesthetically pleasing portfolio.

  5. Save your spec samples as a PDF with an easy-to-read name.

    When you upload it to job applications, hiring managers need to know what they’re downloading.

  6. Mention the portfolio you shared in your cover letter to be sure it gets the hiring manager’s attention. You can bring it up again in the interview to see if they viewed it. 

Many types of jobs have hiring managers who prioritize portfolios over resumes, like if you’re getting into graphic design, content writing, proposal writing, and so on. Spec samples can make your application look very impressive, and show your skills in a practical manner.

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Compensate for a weak resume with a strong cover letter

Resumes typically follow a predictable format, but cover letters are a lot more “anything goes.” This means that your cover letter allows you to draw attention to your unique skills and spec samples that may not show through on a resume alone. Ideally, you’ll personalize your cover letter to every single job application you submit. 

Writing a cover letter can be tough, but the goal is to make sure you aren’t too stuffy or formal. Try to match the tone of the company’s culture, being more formal or more conversational depending on how they write on official pages. Also, read the job description so that you can directly address the key skills and deliverables the company is looking for.

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Find yourself an inside connection

It’s not who you are, it’s who you know — This saying is true more than ever, especially as the job market heats up. While companies are required to employ fair hiring practices, someone within the company can recommend you and it can bring a great deal of attention and credibility to your application. Luckily, you don’t have to have an uncle that works at Microsoft.

You can quickly build connections both in-person and online and, if networking seems daunting to you, it’s probably a mindset issue. The key is to approach each potential connection with the mindset of, “What’s in it for them?” By finding a way to create mutual value, the people you reach out to will genuinely look forward to helping you. 

It’s also important to send messages that are completely natural and honest. We’re all busy, and no one wants to interact with a robot or someone who is clearly just asking us for a favor with no prior relationship in place. It’s also important to follow up because, again, we’re all busy. While you shouldn’t pester or harass anyone, sending a message a couple of days later will help you get a response. 

Consider working for yourself

When you’re searching for a job, it’s easy to get lost in the application process. One submission after another, you may begin to feel doubtful and drained, wondering if the right position will ever come along that doesn’t have a hundred other applicants hopefully waiting. For some people, quitting this process is the right thing to do.

While not everyone is in the position to become self-employed, it is a viable option for many, especially in the days of freelancing and remote work. You could even take on a part-time or relaxed remote position as a W-2 employee, and use your spare time to build a brand for yourself. The best part? Your resume doesn’t matter when you work for yourself.

There’s no denying that building a business requires extreme determination and courage, but it can be done. Once you get a little way down the road, you’ll have more opportunities than ever before and you’ll be on the other side of the interview table, qualifying clients of your own instead of trying to impress a recruiter for a 9-to-5. 

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