You need a job, yet your resume isn’t as robust as you would like it to be. You’ve dabbled here and there, but the experience you’ve accumulated still doesn't feel like enough.
Whatever your past circumstances were — whether there have been many gaps in your work years, or you’re looking for your first job now — there’s something out there that’s right for you.
There are many careers that you can step into directly, get trained, and climb the ladder in. So, never fear, not all jobs demand that you have years of experience; and sometimes the ones that do will make exceptions for a qualified candidate. Whatever your story is, remember that having little to no experience is only temporary.
We all have to start somewhere, so start here by learning what you can do without experience in your field, and learn about entry-level positions.
Applying for a Job When You Have Little Experience
You’ve been searching the online job boards, but you keep coming across the same key phrase, “x-years of experience required.” So, you move onto the next posting, only to be discouraged again.
Don't be so quick to move on and close that browser! If a job seems like something you would be qualified for, it wouldn't hurt to apply anyway. You may still get contacted for an interview.
There are some other things for you to consider:
Lean into any experience. Just because you didn’t get paid to do something (volunteer work or day-to-day activities) doesn’t mean the experience isn’t relevant. Or, say you have a portion of experience the employer was asking for, but not the entire amount. Mention that, and if you have a resume and cover letter ready, apply anyway.
Emphasize your skills. If you know that you’d be able to get that work done well, then you should apply. Maybe you have done some volunteer activities or freelance assignments for the type of job you’re interested in. That counts, so use it to your benefit.
Ask for help. Do you know someone, or someone who knows someone? Use your network to your advantage. If you want that job, then be industrious. Even if the answer is no, at least you know you tried.
Let your resume work for you. You need that resume of yours to be in tiptop shape. Maybe you know a writer who happens to be good at spiffing up resumes. Even if you don't, you can ask a friend to look your resume over. Having a few sets of eyes on your resume before you submit it can benefit you in the long run.
How to Get the Job
Once you have interviews lined up, learn whatever you can about each company. Understand their mission statements, and reflect on any parts that resonate with you. Consider what about the statements you enjoy, and how you can be an asset that reflects these company values. Just be prepared to relay that message to your interviewer when you meet in person.
Plus, since you have an interview, they have likely already looked past any experience you could be lacking. Now is your time to prove that you would make the best candidate.
Accentuate the positive. Soft skills are lacking in candidates, according to many hiring personnel. If you are blessed in the soft skills department — critical thinking, problem solving, communication, people management, to name a few — then you must make sure to highlight those in both your resume and during your interview. Just be sure to sound confident rather than arrogant when discussing these qualities.
Have realistic expectations. For some careers, there’s no way around the fact that experience and appropriate education are what it’s going to take to get the job. Being realistic about who you are and what skills you have will help you land the job you're qualified for.
Show enthusiasm. You don’t have to be over the top. You’re just trying to convey the fact that you’ll greet each day and task enthusiastically. You'll want to show that you're an eager listener and learner. Don't hide any passion that you have.
Be interview ready. Research some of the most commonly asked questions at the company you’re interviewing for, or even in general, and prepare your answers. Rehearse so you can sound natural during your interview. Also, be sure to have a couple of questions ready for the person interviewing you at the end. It is encouraged to at least ask one or two questions.
Hiring managers are looking for people who not only can fill the role but also match the company culture. Your interviews are a way to show that you can fit in seamlessly, while getting your job done professionally.
13 Jobs You Can Get Without Prior Experience
Not having a degree or experience doesn't mean there aren't great jobs out there for you. Again, we all start somewhere. Listed below are a few jobs that you can usually land without experience due to on-the-job training — however some may require a degree of some sort and/or completion of a certificate program.
Bartender: Believe it or not, you usually do not need outside training to become a bartender. You tend to be trained with an experienced bartender who will teach you on the job. You might begin as a bar-back, keeping the bar clean, garnishes cut, and glasses stocked.
Administrative assistant: As an administrative assistant, you’ll keep the office organized and running smoothly. If you’re familiar with computers, are extremely organized, and have your high school diploma or GED, then you’re likely qualified for this position.
Security officer: You'll need to be at least 18 years old and pass a background check before being hired. You will secure the premises of your building by monitoring surveillance equipment and different building access points.
Home health aid: When you decide to become a home healthcare aid, you are entering a career that will vary daily. Your duties will depend on who your employer is and what the needs of your patient are. Your employer will be the determining factor of your educational needs. Some will train on the job, while others only hire employees that have certificates or diplomas in the field.
Real estate agent: Depending on which state you’re in, you either have to be a minimum of 18 or 19 years old to get your real estate license. Each state has its own set of educational requirements, but typically, you need to complete a real estate course and pass your state’s real estate exam. It can be a great career choice, especially if you have a personality conducive to selling.
Medical assistant: There are two types of medical assistants, clinical and administrative. Clinical, you’ll work directly with the patients, whereas administrative assistants work behind the front desk. You’ll need your high school diploma or GED. Most physicians will want you to have had some post-secondary training, through either a local medical assistant school or an accredited online CMA college program.
Veterinary assistant: In most instances, you’ll just need a high school diploma or GED to become a veterinary assistant. There are some veterinary clinics that will allow you to work prior to graduation. For this job, you’ll receive training, most likely through the veterinary tech or veterinarian directly.
Legal assistant: Paralegals and legal assistants are often viewed as the same career, but that's not the case. Paralegals need more schooling, whereas legal assistants can usually be hired with their high school diploma or GED. Legal assistants get most of their knowledge from on-the-job training, and act more as a secretary, running the backend of an attorney's office.
Medical biller: As a medical biller, you help with the often daunting task of navigating the laws, guidelines, and regulations of insurance companies. You’ll need to complete a medical billing course and get your diploma. Certification isn’t required in all states, so you should check with your state guidelines to find out whether or not certification is necessary for you.
Elevator installer: Becoming an elevator installer requires an apprenticeship. So, you’ll earn while learning this high-paying trade. You do need your high school diploma or GED, to be able to pass a basic math, reading, and mechanical test, and be physically fit enough to handle the heavy equipment.
Delivery driver: You just need a clean driving record, and in some instances, no felonies, to become a delivery driver. There may be some on-the-job training involved.
Retail Work: Job seekers can generally find entry-level jobs in retail such as cashier, stocker, and loss prevention personnel.
As you can see, there are more options available to those without experience than you may think. No one begins with experience, you build it over time. Do your best not to get caught up in what you feel you may be lacking, and instead market your strengths, any experience you do have (professional or otherwise), and your soft skills.