No Work Experience? No Problem

By Mel Sim

You can still get the job you want. Here are five ways how.

With all the time spent studying and focusing on your grades, there’s hardly any time left to gain valuable job experience. Which means, when it comes to applying for a job, you may feel that you’re at a disadvantage compared to your peers who’ve gone through internships as well as short work experience stints.

Not to worry. Everyone has to start somewhere – and that includes you with your first job. Besides, if you’re applying for an entry-level position, the hiring manager already expects you not to have any or limited experience. Which means they are looking for something else to convince them you’re the right hire. Here are a few tips to sway them your way.

#1 Adapt your resume for each job you apply
Still sending out generic resumes? Forget about it if you seriously want to get hired. Spending time adapting your resume will increase your chances at clinching an interview.

What to include? Think of experiences that can help show how you’d be a strong fit for the role. For example, if you’re applying to work as a social media manager, sharing that you’re an admin for your university’s student council Facebook page instantly links you to the role. Or if you want to work at an online magazine – having your own blog or being published in other online sites will help you stand out. These may not work for a position in engineering or banking, which is why it is important to match your experience to the role by adapting your resume.

#2 Don’t forget your extracurricular activities
You may have zero work experience but that doesn’t mean you don’t have experience at being a leader of something. This is where extracurricular activities come in. Say you were the team captain for your uni’s football club or an elected member for the student council. When a hiring manager reads this, they think leadership or management quality, which ranks very high on their list. Note these down in your resume as you would work experience to highlight any projects you’ve worked on or any specific responsibilities that were tasked to you that would be relevant to the position you’re applying for.

#3 You have skills – use them!
Think you don’t have experience because you’ve not worked a day in your life? What about the skills you have? These can boost your resume to make you more relevant for the position. For example, you are familiar with writing codes and developing apps – make sure you list this down in your resume if you’re applying to work in a tech company. Computer skills, technical skills, research skills... all of these will come in handy regardless of how basic to help the hiring manager spot you as a suitable candidate.

While we are on the topic of skills, don’t forget your soft skills. Remember to showcase qualities like teamwork, professionalism, communication, problem-solving to help you stand out from the rest.

#4 Be you!
The truth is, for most entry-level positions, employers are more interested in your personality, adaptability and availability. So if you can let your superb personality shine through your resume and show that you’re 100% eager to learn and grow with the company, then half the battle is won. Bonus if you can start immediately as some companies may need to fill the roles ASAP.

#5 Apply anyway
If you think you fit most of the qualifications of the job except the experience part, apply anyway. Unless it is for an extremely technical role, not having the work experience will not immediately strike you off as a potential hire. Who knows, the hiring manager may somehow get the sense that you’re suitable for the job and decides to call you for an interview to get to know you better. Then that is your chance to make a great impression by showing off your positive attitude and willingness to learn.

#6 Gain some experience if you really need it
If you’re applying for a position where work experience is crucial, then it is a better idea to put your job search on a hold and gain some experience first. It can either be an internship or you can even write to the employer you’re interested in to see if perhaps you can do a work experience. Who knows, you may show you have what it takes for the job and the employer may decide to hire you for a full-time position. You get work experience and even the possibility of being hired – win-win!

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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