You Have No Experience

Dilemma: Job Requires Experience. You Have No Experience.

In my line of work I have the pleasure of reviewing hundreds of resumes and interviewing just as many people every year. I work with all walks of life from the very experienced to the recently graduated as a recruiter. No matter the person, finding a job can prove to be a difficult task if one is lacking the necessary experience that hiring managers are seeking.

There is an age-old dilemma: Employers want to hire experienced employees, but how does an inexperienced job seeker get experience when nobody will hire without it. There are plenty of factors that go into getting a new job and I probably won’t be able to cover them all, so hopefully what I’m about to cover will be some new things and provide a different approach for you.

Job Boards, A Common Mistake
With the advent of Internet job boards, people can easily apply for multiple jobs within minutes. It’s a great tool, right? Just point, click and submit. What people fail to realize is the sheer number of resumes online and the actual statistics of landing a job by simply submitting your application. On average, 1,000 people will see every online job posting. 200 will apply to it.  175 resumes will be screened out by an applicant tracking system or corporate recruiter. 25 resumes will be seen by the hiring manager. 4 to 6 people will be invited for an interview and only one person will be offered the job. So, for every job you apply to online your chances are less than 1% WITH or WITHOUT relevant experience. Unfortunately, not fully understanding your chances can quickly lead to a downward spiral of rejections. Give yourself the best odds and apply for what’s relevant. Don’t go after something that says ‘5 plus years’ experience.” Keep in mind of your competition too. If the requirement says it needs at least two years’ experience, chances are someone will have that. It’s not about whether you can do the job; it’s about whether you can get the job. Seek out positions within your industry that are entry-level or require no experience to help get your foot in the door in a good company.

Network, Network, Network
Despite the ample job opportunities online, the number one way to find a job still revolves around “who you know” and it’s overwhelming statistics. Research shows that anywhere from 60% to 80% of all jobs found are through knowing someone else. If you are a job seeker and you are not leveraging the people you know, you may be missing out on ample opportunities. The approach I usually suggest to my entry-level candidates is to reach out to your best contacts that are currently employed. Where do they work? What do they do? Are there openings in the company? Can they recommend you or pass on your resume? Do they know anyone else that would be a good person to meet? You will never know if you never ask.

Once you have exhausted your close relationships, start branching out and meeting new people. Utilize online tools like LinkedIn to reach out to people that may already have your desired role or work at a desired company. See if they’d be willing to grab a coffee with you and allow you to learn about how they got to where they are and more around their role. Remember, it’s all about them. Sure, you’re looking for a job, but the fastest way to build rapport with someone is to ask questions that allow them to speak about themselves. Do the same thing by looking up industry or skill user groups in the area. Attend them religiously and meet new people. Also, check and see if any open conferences are coming up. These are all great ways to meet new people. Rinse and repeat.

Hello! I Still Have No Experience
Ok, I hear you. You have no work experience and your resume shows it. First off, realize that hiring managers DO hire people without work experience. It does happen, so remain positive. How, you ask? Well, you may indeed have no work experience, but I truly doubt that you have zero experience in anything. Ditch the traditional career resume and build one that is far more functional; focus on what you can do and have done before. What abilities and skills do you have and how is that relevant in a professional environment (e.g…problem solving, organization or time management)? What have you done? Are you a leader on your local charity board? Do you volunteer your time? Have you ever had an internship? Are there internships available? Also, triple check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors and that includes the spelling of relevant tools and technologies. Research shows that almost 60% of all hiring managers will toss a resume if it contains errors. Additionally, keep yourself up-to-date on industry trends and technologies that are relevant. This shows dedication; a trait that cannot be learned. Anything on your resume is fair game, so make sure if you put it on there you can speak to it. Remember, a resume is only good for securing an interview. Beyond that, it’s up to you and your ability to speak to your skills and strengths. If you can put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager and understand more of what they’re looking for, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your inexperienced competition. But, interviewing is another topic for another day.