"The expert at anything was once a beginner" - Helen Hayes
Countless people get caught in a vicious circle, especially when launching or changing their career. You can't get a job without experience and you can't get experience without a job.
However, that is not always true. As long as you do your research, and demonstrate a great deal of self-belief and strong communication skills. They are key ways to convince employers to consider you for your target job role, when other candidates 'look better on paper'.
Here, we dig down deeper on how to get your dream job with little or no experience in that role.
We have to start with a reality check of course. No one is going to employ you to do technically advanced jobs with no qualifications. It's not rocket science!
Though there are career coaches who provide insights on ways to get your dream job without anyone even reading your 'resume' like this TED Talk by Laura Berman.
She maintains that "What we are qualified to do, is sometimes not what we are meant to do."
If you are going for an entry-level position with very little track record, the good news is that some employers fully understand that getting relevant work experience has been especially problematic during the pandemic. Some may even be looking for candidates who are a 'blank slate', ready to integrate them into their working systems.
Another option is to look for companies who offer internships or apprenticeships, who therefore don't put a massive value on relevant experience of their niche, or even this job role.
Some companies also hint or even state that a role is most suited to ambitious young applicants at the start of their careers.
These opportunities don't always suit older candidates making a career switch though. You may have to rely more firmly on being creative and compelling in how you word your application.
One way around lack of experience is to make your knowledge into a substantial asset. This could be from formal studies, building your skills online in your own time, or research in preparation for job hunting.
Are there courses you can do which illustrate your aptitude and make you more 'employable'?
At the very least, you must demonstrate that you know a lot about the company you are applying to and that you genuinely have an interest in joining their team. Authentic enthusiasm and a deep understanding of a company's needs and goals can carry you a long way in the application process.
Building on the knowledge mentioned above, you could invest time in developing innovations and business efficiencies that show you are best 'fit' for your dream job role.
It could be that your relevant invention or business improvement idea has already been thought of by your potential employer. However, they will be impressed that you formulated a good argument and showed authentic interest in their profitable growth.
"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." - Julia Child
An alternative title for this point would be to make a virtue of your life skills. It is about finding ways to 'sell' your personal attributes in job applications.
We are not talking about being form captain at school, or a brilliant amateur musician! It is taking aspects of your personality and life experience, and demonstrating how valuable they are to this job role.
This can be especially potent as one of the things employers value highly these days is what used to be called 'soft skills'. These are increasingly being referred to as 'empowerment skills' as companies are realising that they are core competencies needed in any successful workforce.
Top of the list is often a strong ability to communicate - more on this later.
Have you got strong examples of your problem-solving skills, and ability to think on your feet? Can you demonstrate good team working examples or emotional intelligence and a strong acumen for bringing the best out of other people?
Being able to show your personality and transferable skills in an attractive way may involve you taking steps to build your empowerment abilities. For example, volunteering for community projects.
"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it." - Maya Angelou
The above ways to get your dream job with little or no experience pivot on one thing – your ability to communicate well. If your CV/Resume and cover letter are compelling enough, you will get an interview. Then, if you have invested in advanced communication skills, you can be powerful in interview situations.
Never underestimate the importance of your cover letter. Around 83% of recruiters place a high value on its contents, and it can determine whether they even bother to read your CV/Resume or not.
As a polished communicator, you may also find other ways to win over a future employer and hide any cracks and gaps in your CV/Resume. A great example of this is to send emails that demonstrate your 'employability potential'.
For instance, when you get offered an interview, a clear, succinct, and polite email to thank the company, acknowledge the details and expressing eagerness is often appreciated.
An interview follow-up email expressing gratitude for the opportunity, renewed interest in the job and a strong desire to work for the company can also help remind the decision-makers that you have important personal attributes of value.
It is all about showcasing your enthusiasm, determination to success, genuine interest in being part of their team – and those all-important communication skills.
There is an age-old expression that it is not what you know that counts, but who you know.
Though the 'old boys network' is largely a thing of the past, and employer recruit on merit not secret handshakes, who you know can still be important.
Knowing how to do business networking can enable you to find – and grab - opportunities to get your dream job with little relevant experience.
This can involve physical and online networking, and joining trade associations. Also, comment within online forums and build your community on LinkedIn.
If possible, find a relevant business mentor, who has contacts you can use.
All of the above opens up lines of communication to promote yourself in the best possible way, as soon as an exciting job opening comes available.
This TED Talk video by Laura Sheehan 'Career Change: The Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Now' shows the importance of self-belief, clarity and determination when making a significant career change.
Perhaps the key message for anyone worried about applying for jobs with no experience is this one.
"As a job seeker, remember this: You only lack experience if they want it done the same old way." - Robert Breault.
It is amazing how far you can get in life, using enthusiasm, knowledge, good ideas and the ability to communicate all of those attributes successfully.
Find ways to improve your employability – and chances of promotion - by enrolling on our recommended communications training courses.