– by Ainsley Lawrence
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in the way business, technology, and education intersect with the personal. She loves traveling to beautiful places and is frequently lost in a good book.
Landing your first job is difficult. You don’t have any prior experience on your resume, and it feels as though all your peers are way ahead of you. But having little to no prior experience needn’t hold you back — you just have to find ways to leverage the experience that you do have to find a role that’s right for you.
But knowing how to strategically leverage your application materials is difficult at first, and it’s not exactly something that you’re taught at school.
So, here’s a quick guide to help you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs, even if you have little to no experience.
Your resume is one of the most important elements of your overall application materials. A good resume allows you to show off your history and is important when trying to land an interview and move on to further steps. However, if you don’t have work experience it can be hard to know what to include.
Regardless of your prior experience, you should remember that the key to a good resume is highlighting the “right” information. If you are a recent college graduate, then this step is fairly straightforward. You can easily leverage relevant college experience on your resumes and include information like coursework, volunteer programs, or extracurricular organizations that you were a part of.
If you are not a college graduate, you can still find ways to make your life experience count. The best way to do this is to get in touch with a pro like Heather Kaiser. Folks like Kaiser know how to transform your life experience and skills into a resume format that recruiters and hiring managers will love. She’ll work closely with you to create a personalized resume, and will give you all the tips you need to help your resume stand out.
Interviews are stressful. Even folks who have years of relevant experience behind them still get butterflies, and feeling nervous is completely normal. However, a little planning and preparation can go a long way and help you shift the focus away from your lack of experience.
When preparing for an interview, you should always consider researching the following:
- Visit the prospective employer’s website: Note down any points of interest or potential talking points.
- Research your interviewer: LinkedIn can help you spot some common interests while retaining a professional approach to research that doesn’t cross personal boundaries.
- Prepare answers for common questions: interviewers will throw you a few softballs during the interview. By preparing for these questions, you can ensure that you come across as a candidate that does their homework.
- Ask questions: use the research you’ve compiled to come up with a few questions. Even if they feel a little forced, questions show that you’re an engaged critical thinker.
- Take notes: taking notes during an interview shows that you care about the information you receive. They can also help keep you on track, as a few pre-prepared bullet points will jog your memory under stress.
Successful interviewing is all about coming across as the “right” kind of candidate. This varies depending on the organization you’ve applied to, but almost all hiring managers will be impressed if you put forward a professional, prepared image during your interview.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of professional development opportunities to choose from. You can go with self-paced online courses, or you can commit to in-person training programs that will deepen your knowledge and help you network.
For most folks, professional development courses should focus on the hard skills needed to succeed in an industry. For example, if you want to pursue a career in programming, then you’ll need to invest time and effort into programming courses in the basic languages. Regardless of the role you’re after, there is almost certainly an accredited course you can take to boost your application.
If you already have the hard skills you need to succeed, then you should consider developing your soft skills. In particular, hiring managers love candidates who display leadership skills and are capable public speakers and excellent listeners. You can hone these skills through volunteer work, or you can look for community organizations in your area that need a helping hand.
Apply to the Right Roles
Applying to the right roles is vital. Too often, applicants are drawn in by the business’s name or industry without truly considering if the role is right for them. This won’t yield you the results you’re looking for, and the rejection is frustrating for applicants and hiring managers alike. So, before you start your next application form, check the application packet and consider whether or not the role is right for you.
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not a role is appropriate for you. If you are unsure, then try to connect with the hiring manager or recruiter who has been listed as a point of contact on the job advertisement. This will also give you a chance to engage with the person doing the hiring before they review the application and leave a strong first impression.
Job searching is difficult at the best of times — it’s even harder if you only have limited experience.
However, a little tenacity and effort go a long way. You can improve your chances by writing a great resume, doing your research before interviews, and by investing in professional development opportunities that give you credibility and help to show off your abilities and skills.