How to get a job when you don’t have experience?

Drake Editorial

How do you go about getting experience, in an ‘everyone-wants experience’ world?

Experience is required for most jobs, even when hiring for so-called “entry-level” positions. Here is the good news, a lack of experience doesn’t mean you can’t land a job. It just means you must go about the job search strategically. 

We have a few tips to help you “get experience” to either land your first job or to make that career switch into a new field.

1. Highlight your transferrable skills 

Whether you realise it or not, you likely already possess some of the skills you need for your next job. 

Often some of the most obvious transferrable skills are personable skills (also known as soft skills) like communication, creativity, resilience, decision making, and problem-solving, which are all highly sought after by companies.  Highlighting your ‘soft’ transferable skills is a great way to demonstrate your value to an employer despite not having all the technical skills for the role. For example, someone applying for an entry-level customer service job might highlight the communication skills they previously developed in a retail or hospitality position. 

Tip: Review the job in question and develop a list of all the tasks the job requires, and start to identify your relevant “transferrable skills” to include in your CV.  

2. Take courses to build in-demand skills. 

There are many education or training options available to help you develop your skillset. This might be through a series of short courses, or it may be a longer-term commitment in the form of a diploma or a degree.   

Nowadays, with so many training courses online and suiting different budgets, there will be an ideal course to help you reach your career goal.  Certain industries have specific certifications you can study for too. 

Tip: Make sure in your interview, that you highlight your commitment to continuing learning new skills, and how you plan to grow in the role. 

3. Build experience by interning, volunteering, or doing it yourself.  

Just because you need the experience to land a paying job doesn’t mean that a charity or non-profit group wouldn’t love to have you and your skills as part of their team on a volunteer basis. Through internships and volunteer opportunities, you can familiarise yourself with a particular area or field and gain an understanding of day-to-day tasks, while also padding your resume with relevant experience.  You’ll be amazed by how much you learn and develop just by volunteer work or through an internship. 

Tip: Research local community groups or organisations you would like to work for and offer your services pro-bono.

4. Aim for entry-level positions 

Focusing your search on entry-level positions will improve your chances of getting a job that can lead to something even bigger.  Even though an entry point role might be a step backward for those who are undertaking a career change, it will provide you with the opportunity to learn from the grassroots and will help you achieve your longer-term career goals. 

Tip: Research the title of a specific entry-level position in a field or area that interests you and search your local job board for that title. For example, if you are looking to start your marketing career, you might search “junior marketer” on SEEK or Indeed.   

To surmise, we are all likely to run into the “experience required” dilemma more than a few times in our careers. At some point, everyone – including your interviewer and the CEO of their company – lacked experience as well. By following the tips outlined above, you’ll be able to move past the “you don’t have enough experience” objections and have a proactive strategy to build on and highlight the skills and knowledge you do have. 

Drake International has hundreds of jobs each month across Australia. Why not talk to the Drake consulting team on 13 14 48.  

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