Whether you’re just starting out in the world of work, you took a long employment break and are ready to get back into the job market, or you want to try to jump into a new field you have no experience in, starting out without the experience desires is difficult.
If you are asking yourself, “How do I find work without any job experience?”, you’re not alone. Many people are on the hunt just like you and are also lacking the experience they require or desire to snag their next position.
Many companies are aware of this trend, and some are beginning to shift their hiring practices so they can snag great, but untraditional, employees.
Despite your gaps, not having the necessary experience isn’t as much of a dead end as you would think. While the journey to your new career may be a bit harder given the circumstances, it’s not impossible. Below are some ideas and considerations if you happen to be in the “no experience” boat.
Look for entry-level options
One of the first avenues you are likely to pursue in your job search is to find out what kind of jobs don’t require experience. The common answer here is to seek out entry-level positions.
Entry-level positions are jobs a company needs to be filled quickly and easily because they are normally critical to the day-to-day activities of the company. The actions performed in the job can usually be taught quickly so that employees can begin working at full capacity in a fairly short amount of time. You will notice that these jobs commonly fall under the customer service, data entry or physical labor umbrella of work. You can normally even find these positions by simply searching “No experience required” on job board websites.
Translate your experience
You may be asking yourself, “How do I write a resume with no job experience?” While the limited experience you do have may not seem relevant at first glance, you may be surprised how well many skills can translate across different careers. For example, if you have been a server in a restaurant and are looking to move into an accounting environment, it may seem like your resume is irrelevant. Think again.
As a server, you have had to utilize skills such as customer service, multi-tasking, problem-solving, teamwork and time management. If you truly have no job experience to put down then pull from your own life experiences. If you are a mother, you are likely great at multi-tasking and have patience. If you are a farmer, you have experience in labor-intensive jobs, project management, and even a knowledge of horticulture or livestock.
When applying for a job, it’s not always about the titles you’ve held in the past, but rather the skills you had to use each day. Spell these skills out on your resume so interviewers can easily see that you do have relevant experience to the job you are applying for.
Make it a side hustle
Sometimes the job you are looking to apply for is just too drastic of a change from your available experience. If you are a customer service agent with dreams of becoming a personal trainer, it is a huge risk to quit your day job to pursue something you have never done before. Gain some knowledge, experience and even potential connections by taking on a job as your side hustle.
Even if your ambitions don’t include you running your own business, this is still a great option to get some further experience under your belt. You take weekend or night shifts or even work busy holidays.
Also, you will be considered part-time so a company may be more willing to take you on despite your lack of experience if they are only paying a part-time wage. You, however, are the one winning since you will have extra cash-in-hand and more content for your resume.
Work for less pay
If you lack experience, you may need to make a trade-off by accepting less pay. That is not to say you should work for free, but this willingness may convince a company to take you on.
Once you have proven yourself and your skill set, you will have the leverage to ask for more money. This is never anyone’s first choice when trying to snag a job, but it may be a necessary evil if you aren’t having luck in the job scene. This may be your last resort, which is completely understandable. That said, if you are just starting out, you will more than likely be working the less desirable jobs for less pay than others with more experience.
You are paid for your experience. When you have proven yourself, you will have many more opportunities open to you. While the world has changed a lot in the last couple of decades, there’s still something to be said for “working your way up the ladder.”
Determine if accepting a job with low pay that exposes you to the experience you need to make your career dreams come true is a short-term pain that will result in long-term gain.
Play to the experience you do have
You may not have any experience with cars, but if you could sell Tupperware at home parties, you have a knack for sales. Similarly, you can use your top skills to sell yourself in particular jobs.
While sales has many facets, at the end of the day, the job’s main mission is to sell. The same goes for cooking staff in a kitchen. There are many responsibilities but the one that counts most is that they can cook.
The same concept can often be applied to jobs seeking a required degree as well. If a supervisor role with a construction company asks for a college diploma but you have been working in construction for decades, you likely have the skills and knowledge that company is looking for — even though you don’t have the qualifications on paper. Many skills in a job can be taught, but if you have the talent for the main goal of a particular job, you should definitely play to this skill set.
Get in the door, even if it’s not necessarily what you want to do
If you lack the experience for the job you want, it may benefit you to apply for an entry-level position that can eventually lead to your dream career. This can be an entry-level job that is related to your chosen career. For example, if you want to manage a hotel, you may be able to work your way along this career path by starting with an entry-level job at a hotel, restaurant or event center.
Another option along the same lines is choosing a company that has a position in your chosen path. If you want to be a zookeeper, your best bet would be to take on a job at a zoo. Even if this first job is selling tickets at the front gate, it still puts you in the same orbit as current zookeepers and management that can put you in that position later. By putting yourself closer to your desired job or organization, you can increase your experience and chances of getting that job down the line.
It’s no secret that sometimes it’s who you know rather than what you know. Reach out to your network and explain your situation. Be honest that, while you don’t necessarily have the experience, you have the passion and drive to get the job done. Your network can be as close as your family and immediate friends, but don’t forget about your expanded network of school friends, church members or old co-workers. Whether you have no job experience after college, or you are in your 30s with no job experience, you likely have a circle of friends and family that can help you find a job opportunity of some kind.
You can also grow your network by finding people closely related to the job industry. Visiting job fairs, networking mixers, or even your local recruiter will give you a friend in the job scene. They are more likely to be able to help translate any skills you do have or help you find opportunities, despite some missing experience.
Look for companies with paid training
Some companies are so desperate for workers they are willing to give you the experience you are looking for. Some industries will bring you onto their payroll and then send you straight to training. This can often be seen in the trucking, heavy equipment and warehousing industries. You can come on board with little or no experience and then be certified and paid — all on the company’s dime. This is one of the simplest ways to snag a warehouse job with no experience and is a particularly popular path to become a forklift operator.
This option, while amazing, is limited as there are very few industries offering such a great deal. That said, it is an opportunity that is worth being on the lookout for. You may even want to keep this option in your back pocket if you are currently employed. You can check in from time to time on the job market in your area in case any promotions like this pop-up.
Meet a Recruiter
Often, location plays a huge factor in the jobs available to you. If you are from a small town or rural area you may be wondering, “Where are jobs with no experience near me?” It can be tough to find zero-experience jobs in more remote areas of the country, but it’s not impossible. One of your best options here is to meet with your nearest staffing recruiter.
Having someone in your corner who can help you find opportunities is invaluable. Staffing agencies have direct connections with companies throughout your area. This works to your advantage as a staffing agency is likely to sit down and get to know you, your goals and your experiences on a more personal level. After they understand what your needs are, they can match you with opportunities even if you don’t fit the “experience profile” perfectly.
A staffing company can recommend you for a position and use their good name and history to help you get your foot in the door at a new job.
Nail the Interview
So, you got an interview, but now you are not sure how to explain you have no experience? You have to make up the lack of word count on your resume by making a great impression. Go into your interview with confidence and a plan. If the interviewees ask you about your lack of experience, be ready to sell them on you, despite your lacking resume.
You may choose to tell them that while you don’t necessarily have the experience on paper, you have a knack for the main skillset of the job. You may instead say that what you lack in experience is made up for in passion and work ethic. You might even decide to say you are a quick learner and can gain the skills needed to perform the job easily.
This argument may not win your interviewer over, but then again, you may strike a chord where you remind the interviewer of a younger version of themselves, or they may see the sincerity in your words and trust that over a resume. Again, this isn’t a sure way to snag the job, but it is another method to compensate for a less than desirable resume.
Having no experience makes it more difficult to find a job, but it is more than possible to find something as long as you can be patient and make a few sacrifices while you are starting out. In today’s economy, many employers have figured out that skills and a willingness to learn are more important than a degree or past job titles. There are plenty of options to help you get on the right track for finding your next position. Once you find that next job, you can build on your experience for the next position and the next.