Getting started in the workplace can be frustrating. You need experience to get the job, but you can’t get experience without a job! What are you supposed to do?
Well, the good news is that there is a way around it, but you’ve got to be savvy, smart and intentional about your job application.
It’s not complicated though. It just requires focus, effort and know-how. While we can’t help you with your attention and effort, we can provide you with the ‘know-how’.
Keep on reading to find out how you can stand out from the crowd and nail an entry-level position without experience. And how you can even land an entry-level job at your dream company or in the industry you want to begin a career in!
Face The Problem
Don’t sweep your lack of experience under the carpet. Instead, demonstrate your integrity, resilience and problem-solving skills by facing the problem, addressing it during the application process and showing how you are taking the initiative by working to solve the problem.
Keep on reading to find some ideas on how you can begin to solve the problem.
Use The Cover Letter As A Tool To Address Concerns The Employer May Have
When you begin to apply for jobs, and after you’ve followed the steps below, you can address any lack of experience in your cover letter. But make sure that you also outline briefly what you have done or are doing to bridge that experience gap.
Write the cover letter carefully though because this letter can also convey your attention to detail, professionalism, sense of responsibility and writing skills.
Tip: You’ll be surprised to learn that over 80% of applicants don’t send in a cover letter. You’ll instantly stand out if you send one. Some recruiters have hired based solely on a cover letter rather than the applicant’s CV!
Target Entry Level Positions
Let us be frank here, at entry-level, you’re not going to be bagging a senior role, or any position that requires specific experience to do it well. You’ll need to focus on applying for entry-level roles, apprenticeships, and internships. You can usually find some decent entry-level roles in customer service, retail sales, bars and restaurants, salons, and admin based roles.
Any of these roles will be beneficial for gaining experience, references and being able to demonstrate a good work ethic in the future. However, there is one sneaky tip you could try to help you get closer to your dream job at entry-level.
Tip! Look for entry-level positions in the field you want to work in, or at a company that you’d like to work for. Chances are, if you prove yourself, you’ll find yourself first in line for promotions, and training to help you develop your career with that company.
For example, if you are interested in working as an estate agent, you might look for a receptionist or admin role at an estate agent at entry-level. There’s even a way to stand out for these types of roles too. Which leads us to the next point.
Take Industry/Skill Relevant Courses
Taking some short courses gives you the skills and confidence to go and bag that entry-level position at the company you want to work for. But you can take things even further by taking short courses related to the industry or career you seek.
Let’s revisit the estate agent example. If you want a career as an estate agent, you could take a customer service training course (which is a highly in demand and transferrable skill). You could even take an estate agent training course too. These courses will demonstrate your commitment and diligence to your prospective employer. They will also help you to understand the industry better.
The beauty of these types of courses is that they are short and concise. They don’t take two or three years to go through, and it’s enough information to help you bag an entry-level position.
Other types of courses that can help at entry level are courses such as a personal assistant training, sales training courses and even a nail technician course. They may not be the exact course that the employer may want you to take in the future, but they will show the employer how serious and committed you are. Plus you’ll stand out against your competition too at the interview stage!
Bridge The Experience Gap
Take things further by finding ways to bridge the experience gap. You can do this in a variety of ways, here are some ideas:
1. Do Some Physical Work
You can do this by volunteering, offering to help at local businesses, taking on short term or temporary projects. Everything you do will lead to more basic experience and knowledge which is precisely what an employer would be looking out for at this level.
2. Review Your Current Experience To Look For Experience You Were Not Aware Of
Make sure that you review your past and look for the experience you’ve overlooked. Your diligence at school may help you out. Maybe you’ve built up a great social media account for yourself or a friend. Perhaps you’ve helped someone solve a problem, have a creative idea or excelled at a topic at school or home. These are all examples of real experience that you can use to demonstrate your abilities.
3. Review Your Qualities Your attitude, personality, motivation, resilience and commitment are as important as skills. Make sure you demonstrate these. If you can back them up with evidence and stories even better. For example, you can show your resilience, determination and problem-solving skills by taking a course or volunteering to help you get the job you want. You can also demonstrate your intent by networking, joining groups on social media, attending industry and career events and publicly demonstrating your enthusiasm!
Learn How To Do Well In Interviews And Apply The Knowledge
Take time to learn, research and understand how to answer interview questions to help you get the job. Just make sure that you don’t become robotic with your answers. It’s in your best interest, to tell the truth in an interview, and if you don’t have an example of an experience, or cannot answer the question that you say so. Your transparency will go a long way.
But there’s more to an interview than the way that you answer questions, though that’s very important. The way you hold yourself, the way you dress, your punctuality, organisation, the way you speak, make eye contact are all non verbal ways that you can communicate intent, organisation and attitude.
Sure, you can be the smartest well-spoken person in the interview room, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the job, but not doing so is a surefire way not to get the job, it can look sloppy. On the other hand, if your prospective employer is trying to choose between you and another similar applicant, these elements might give you the edge.
Focus On Getting An Interview
It’s easy to get lost in the whole interview process, which can be overwhelming. Take some of the pressure off yourself by just focusing on getting an interview first. It will be easier on psychologically if you can take this approach.
The advantage of this strategy may mean that you attend a few interviews but don’t get the job, but you’ll have the confidence that you have the skills to get attention and you are attracting employers and you are gaining interview experience.
The next step in this situation is to focus on developing your interview skills, and there’s nothing wrong with writing to the people who interviewed you to ask them for feedback. You never know they may reconsider you in the future too because of your diligence and commitment to improving. Just don’t take it personally if some of them don’t reply – not all recruiters will respond to your request.