It happens all the time, disappointed job seekers who are freshly graduated from secondary school or university as well as those seeking a career change find themselves in a conundrum – how to apply for a job with no experience or experience that appears to have no relevance to the job? It might seem like an exercise doomed for failure but the good news is that it is in fact possible to successfully land that job even if you have no experience. How? All it takes is some time, a little analytical soul-searching, a dash of creativity, ambition, and self-confidence and you can position yourself as a viable candidate using your resume objective and your cover letter.
This situation underscores the necessity of not having a cookie-cutter cover letter and resume. Careful consideration should be given to each role and your positioning as a candidate so that you can realistically assess yourself and bolster the areas of your application that may be lacking. Here are three tips that can help you do just that.
1. Demonstrate that your inexperience is not a complete disadvantage.
New grad: there is no escaping the fact that you have no work experience so own and embrace your inexperience. Leverage your inexperience as a motivation and commitment to learning and growth.
Career changer: you may want to explain your desire to enter this new field/career and demonstrate your ability and desire to constantly learn new skills and your commitment to self-improvement.
2. Demonstrate that your experience, while it may not be an exact match, is relevant and applicable.
This is where your creativity and analytical skills come in. You will need to highlight your transferable skills and abilities.
New grad: you will need to carefully consider what your area of study, extra-curricular activities and life experiences have taught you and how those lessons, and the skills acquired as a result, are applicable to the role you are applying for. In another possible scenario your area of study or major might not be what the employer is looking for and may have been so specific that the relevance of the skill set isn’t readily apparent. The onus is on you to show the employer.
Step1: Make a list of activities you have been involved in.
Step 2: List the skills you learned and abilities you gained as a result of that experience.
Step 3: Examine the job description and determine how they can be applied to the job.
Here’s an example: You studied Theatre Arts with a focus on acting or you are a member of a theatre company, and want to apply for a sales job.
Auditioning skills: Translation: I have the confidence needed to pitch new business ideas to clients.
Voice projection: Translation: I am ideal for public speaking and business presentations.
Theatre production experience: Translation: Event management skills.
Additionally a major where you were required to study large volumes of data translates well into a job such as Business or Market Analyst where the same is required.Participation in sports and experience as a team captain teach teamwork as well as leadership skills. Participation in martial arts teaches discipline and focus.
Career changer: As outlined above if you are trying to make a career change and your experience is in a different field you will have to think of ways to link your strengths, your personal attributes, your competencies, your talents, your passion and life experiences with the company and show how they equip and motivate you to land and excel in the new role. It is important to anticipate any obvious objections to your deficiencies and address them as a positive statement that identifies you as uniquely qualified as opposed to unqualified. For example, while you may not have experience with certain tools or software needed for the job, you may possess the core competencies to master them and quickly. Show the employer that ‘Adaptable’ is your middle name.
3. Demonstrate that you have the behavioural traits that the top candidate in such a role should possess.
These specific qualities may or may not be included in the published job description so some research may be necessary. Show that you have what it takes by citing your specific accomplishments that relate to your ability to do this specific job.
If you market yourself well, the job that you thought was out of your league can be well within your reach.