Everyone who starts out in the working world will encounter the dreaded Permission Paradox: you cannot find a job without experience, yet you cannot get any experience without a job. It’s a textbook Catch-22 that’s discouraging and seems almost impossible to overcome. Almost. Our 11 tips for getting a job without experience can help you go from zero to hero in a very reasonable amount of time (job hunting is never quick!).
1. Educate yourself
Take classes, attend workshops, get certificates and diplomas, and if you have to, earn a degree. This will not only help you get the knowledge for the job, but also show your dedication and commitment. Plus: teachers and fellow students are a great way to start and expand your network.
2. Start working (your way up)
Another way to get some experience in a specific area is to work for little or no money – it doesn’t sound particularly motivating, but boy, can it help you get your foot into all kinds of doors: you can volunteer, intern or freelance to get hands-on training. Depending on the career, starting or contributing to a blog might be a good idea to show off your passion and talent. In short: fill up your CV and your portfolio with relevant projects that you pursue part-time, on weekends, or during school breaks.
3. Work the Network
A convenient way to get a job is to be recommended or know a friend of a friend. For that to happen, you need to build and cultivate your network, both online and offline: make sure people know that you are pursuing career xzy – and be ready with an elevator pitch, an updated resume, and a super cool LinkedIn profile, of course.
4. Let’s draw!
It’s time to get out some pens and paper and make a big Venn diagram that can help guide your way to success: List all the skills, experience, and the personal traits needed for your future job. Then, add the skills, experience, and personal traits you already have and see where the two circles overlap. You can use this as a reference to see what you need to improve and what you can highlight in your CV and cover letter.
5. Become an expert in your field
Learn everything there is to know about the industry and the job. This will not only prepare you for the career – it will also help you when networking and interviewing for jobs. To become an expert in your field, interact in forums, read blogs, and join groups both online and offline. Make sure you also know some key names in the business – online and offline; locally, nationally and even internationally.
6. Pick people’s brains
People love to give advice and be seen as a specialist or experts in a certain field. Once you have learned the names of the professionals you admire and who have the career you want, try getting in touch with them – online or if you like the old-school touch, with a handwritten note, for example. A good way to make people feel important and valued is to ask what next steps they recommend you take. Don’t just send out tons of emails with your CV – everyone’s busy, inboxes are full. Always establish a connection before you ask for advice or even favors.
7. Have a good story to tell
Make sure you have a captivating career-starting story that leaves no doubts that you are the perfect person for all kinds of jobs in a particular field. People will ask questions (so many questions!) so prepare clear and concise answers to why you want to enter this field, what you are going to do to reach this goal, and what you have to offer. This is where you impress with your passion, throw in all of the important skills and experiences, top it off with your education and persuade everyone you talk to.
8. Revamp your CV
And while we’re at it: make sure your CV reflects the key parts of this story. Focus on your talents and skills and not just on your job titles: create a CV that doesn’t dwell in the past, but looks ahead and showcases all the great things you can contribute to in the future.
9. Focus on the soft skills
Transferable skills can be – surprise! – transferred from one situation or job to another and show how you interact with people. Examples of these soft skills are interpersonal skills, organizational skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Focus on your ability to motivate people, multitask, supervise, or speak in public. Create a CV that oozes personality and shows off your soft skills in all their employable glory. If you can show why a certain soft skill will make it easier to learn a particular hard skill, you’ve basically nailed it.
10. Aim reasonably high
Even though you should always aim high when it comes to your career, it’s also important to use common sense when applying for a job. You are a beginner, so look for entry level positions where you know and can show that you can do the job. Make it clear that you know that you are a beginner but are willing to learn – and then add an irresistible amount of enthusiasm, passion, and determination.
11. Patience, grasshopper!
Be patient, and be willing to start at the bottom.Getting your foot – and then the rest of yourself – into the door may take time. It might also be exhausting and seem like a semi-good idea at time, but if it’s what you really want to do and what makes you happy, go for it!