How to Get a Job With No Experience and How to Get Experience With No Job

Nancy Anderson
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It's a situation that every jobseeker faces at some point in his career: finding a job with no experience. Whether you're looking for a job right out of college or switching to a new industry, the lack of a relevant work history doesn't have to be a deal breaker. With the right strategy, you can reframe your past and build your resume.

Mine Your Past

Before you write yourself off as having no experience, look to your past to identify items that might be valuable to potential employers. Did you spend time volunteering? Did you hold leadership roles in campus teams or organizations? Do you have student work or spec projects that might serve as portfolio pieces? If so, consider adding these items into an "additional experience" or "relevant experience" section, and make note of the section in your cover letter. This strategy is not a long-term solution, but it can give your resume more weight when you're trying to get a job on a short deadline.

Start Getting Experience

When you have no experience but plenty of time, get moving. Consider the jobs you want to apply for, and examine the hard and soft skills they require. Then, find ways to build yourself up in those areas. If you want to be a graphic designer, offer to design programs or posters for a local dance company. If you've never held any type of job or internship, do a project for free with a local community group to prove you can manage deadlines and communicate effectively. If you're still in school, get involved in the planning for large-scale events. A proactive approach shows employers you're motivated and dedicated, and the extra experience makes you a stronger prospective employee.

Give Credibility to Hard Skills

Most employers look for specific hard skills, but for candidates with no experience, it can be difficult to provide proof of these abilities. It's one thing to state you know a language such as Java; it's quite another to provide a certification from a respected organization. To build credibility, choose one or two of the most important hard skills on your resume, and seek out online or in-person programs that offer certificates or licenses. Be sure to select an accredited institution with a positive industry reputation.

Target Appropriate Positions

Finding a job with no experience is easier when you're realistic; after all, a recent graduate is unlikely to get a job that requires three to five years of experience. Avoid wasting time, and target your search to entry-level positions. Since these jobs are usually directed to brand-new professionals, they have less stringent work-history requirements. Instead, employers often look for the indicators you might make a great employee, such as hard skills and the demonstrated ability to solve tough problems.

Getting hired with no experience often requires extra legwork, particularly when you're competing within an excellent candidate pool. By taking the initiative to build your resume, you can make yourself a more appealing prospect.

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