How to land a job when you have no experience

WRITTEN BY: Jamie Ballard

It’s one of the most frustrating things you’ll encounter on a job search. They want you to have experience before they give you a job, but how can you get experience if they won’t hire you? It’s a problem that many high school and college students bump into, but it’s not an obstacle that’s impossible to overcome. Here are several things you can do to land the job in spite of your inexperience.

Figure out why you’d be a good fit. You probably applied to this job because you need the money, but also because you think you could be good at it. If it’s a retail opening, you might highlight that you’re organized and like helping people. If it’s a barista opening, you can share your passion for a good cup of coffee and desire to share that enjoyment with others. If it’s an assistant position, you can point out that you’re timely and an excellent writer. Figure out why you want the job, and what will make you the best choice.

Share your non-obvious experience. Okay, so you’ve never actually worked an official job before. That doesn’t mean you’re totally inexperienced. Think about your community service - is any of that relevant? Maybe you haven’t worked in a daycare before, but you did volunteer with the kids summer program at the YMCA, for example. You can also highlight your extracurriculars if they’re significant to the position you’re applying for. If you were the treasurer of a club at school, mention that when you apply for a money-handling job. Jobs aren’t the only form of experience!

Write an outstanding cover letter. The HR person at the job you’re applying for is sifting through dozens of resumes and cover letters. You need to make your application stand out from the rest. If your resume is a little empty, then an strong cover letter might be what moves you from the reject pile to the interview pile. Make it captivating and unique, while still being succinct. Have several people look over it, and don’t be afraid to ask for criticism. Additionally, most schools offer a career center, where staff members can read over your resume and cover letter and tell you how to improve it.

Research the company. If you do get called in for an interview, congratulations! Make sure you do your research on the company and position you’re interviewing for. Try to work in specifics of the company in your interview answers. For example, when they ask why you think you’d be a good fit for them, you can reply, “The work you’ve done with Jones Corporation to amp up their social media by creating a Twitter account is the kind of thing I’m interested in.” At the end of the interview, make sure you have at least one question for the interviewer - it shows that you’re interested and knowledgeable.

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