Hands up if you find this meme relatable.
Finding a job without the relevant experience on your resume is tough.
Whether you are a fresh graduate starting their career or someone looking to switch careers midway — this is a very real challenge that needs to be overcome.
Not to mention that we are currently undergoing a pandemic which had made the job search even harder.
Just a few years ago, I was a clueless humanities graduate looking to get a job in content marketing.
But, here was the problem. I had little to no relevant experience having just done one internship as a museum assistant.
I was floundering around jobless for a few months until a top tier management consultant and good friend of mine sat me down to help me get my s*ht together.
A few years down the road, I am now a little less lost and doing what I like at Seedly. Baby steps right.
Here’s what I learnt along the way, condensed into a comprehensive guide that will increase your chances of getting a job without relevant experience.
Before we begin this guide, here’s a reality check.
Generally, employers don’t hire you for your potential alone. You must have the education, skills and a certain amount of experience that is relevant to the job before employers will seriously consider you.
But I have to warn you, if you want to get a job without relevant experience, you will need to work twice as hard and work smart too.
That should not be surprising to you. If you want a better career than most people; you will have to be the best at what you do.
1. Begin With The End in Mind
The first step to getting a job without relevant experience is to look at the job description for your dream job.
The trick here is to reverse engineer the process and work towards being the person that the recruiter would want to hire.
This also has the added benefit of helping you find a clear and specific end goal which can be broken down into smaller more achievable steps to increase your chances of success.
Another thing to take note of is that these job descriptions are a wish list from the companies.
This means that you don’t need to tick every box for you to be considered for an interview. But, it would be great if you could meet all if not most of the requirements.
After all, you only get rewarded for producing results. And what brings results? Skills.
Let’s say your dream job was to become a Software Engineer (Backend) at Seedly.
But, what if you have no relevant experience?
the solution is to work towards obtaining the skills in your dream job’s description.
In addition, you can talk to the talent acquisition staff of the companies you want to work for to enquire about the whole application and interview process.
Ask about what characteristics you’re looking for in candidates and what kind of certifications are useful or what kind of tests you need do well on.
For example, you could pick up Ruby on Rails with your SkillsFuture credit.
PS: Here’s a guide to help you choose SkillsFuture courses and making full use of your SkillsFuture credit.
With what you’ve learnt, you can put it to good use by building production-level applications. More on that in a bit.
2. Create Relevant Experience
As mentioned earlier, employers generally don’t hire you for your potential alone.
You will need to obtain the relevant experience: which is defined as the things that you do that are closely related to the skills needed for the job.
Although I may sound like Captain obvious, you need to recognise that work is evolving.
We are moving towards a future where work is becoming increasingly interconnected.
This is especially so in job clusters i.e. jobs in the same field of work that requires similar skills.
As such you will need you to acquire human-based soft skills more than skills specific to jobs.
As such, ‘relevant’ can be almost anything you have done at work or outside of work that will aid you to do your job well.
Here are some ways you can create the relevant experience.
Volunteer For Project Experience
The first way you can obtain these skills is to volunteer or work for little or no money.
You can also intern, take up a traineeship, or freelance to get hands-on training.
Although it may not be super rewarding now, think of it as an investment into your future career.
Doing this has a few benefits.
You are able to develop and practice your skills, grow your network and show your prospective employers your commitment to the field that you want to enter.
Volunteering is also a way for you to produce real results that you can show prospective employers to strengthen your case.
Depending on the field you would like to enter, creating a blog or contributing to articles on platforms like ours (#shameless plug) can be a great way to demonstrate your passion and potential.
In sum: work towards building up your resume and portfolio with the relevant projects that you pursue with your free time.
In this day and age, it is not a hard requirement for you to obtain a formal university degree to switch careers. But, it does help.
If that is not an option for you, you can always take up relevant learning outside of those formal institutions.
This self-learning includes taking courses, completing workshops and obtaining certifications that will provide concrete evidence to prospective employers that you are committed to the field you would like to enter.
On top of the skills, expertise and hands-on-experience you can pick up, these classes are an opportunity to expand your network.
Your classmates, professors, or even schools may alert you to any potential openings.
Develop Extensive Informal Expertise
To demonstrate that you are truly interested in a field or job, you will need to have the relevant experience.
This extends to more informal avenues like your passion projects, academic knowledge, volunteer experience or even your involvement with a professional association.
This is also a good time for you to try out the role as although the industry or job may seem ideal to you at first, you might think differently after gaining some hands-on experience.
At the end of the day, it all about picking up the relevant skills and experience, showing results and proving your commitment to entering this new field to your prospective employers.
While creating experience takes time, you can start applying in the meantime, and add the experience you gained as you go.
3. Focus on Refining What You Do Have Now
While you work on developing skills and obtaining relevant experience, you can refine other areas too.
Your goal is to develop into a person that you and recruiters would want to hire.
Skills and experience are important, but so are soft skills like your personality, your attitude towards work (professionalism), a deep understanding of the company you would like to join and more.
This list goes on so do not fixate on just one area.
You will also need to develop your personal brand which consists of:
1. Who you are
2. What you’re capable of
3. What makes you valuable
4. Think Back on All Your Jobs and Repackage Your Skills
Before you accept that you do not have any relevant experience, I would think that it would be useful to ensure that this is totally not the case.
Reflect on your past jobs, volunteer experiences and try to establish links between the skills and experience you need and what you have.
Keep in mind that the keyword is relevant as there are a lot of transferable skills between jobs.
For example, if you were working for a Non-governmental organisation, you may have picked up useful skills like problem-solving, communication, data analysis and teamwork.
This may set you up for more corporate jobs like Business Development role where you will have to deal with large organisations or a diverse range of individuals, from corporate decision-makers and companies.
Next, you will want to package them all nicely into a solid resume to up your chances in securing an interview.
In addition, you will want to write a cover letter, which is especially important if you are looking for a job where you might not have all the relevant experience.
Your cover letter can be an effective tool that demonstrates your personality and links your skills and knowledge with your resume.
The personality part is often overlooked as it might make you stand out amongst other employers.
Your cover letter is a chance for you to explain to your prospective employer how your jobs, education, skills, activities are a perfect mix of what they are looking for.
It’s your job to show your prospective employer that you are a good fit for the company and can hit the ground running.
With your growing skills, experience and a kickass resume and cover letter, you are more than prepared to seize opportunities.
The last tip covers how you can create some for yourself.
5. Network and Participate in Relevant Groups
To break into an industry, you would want to ensure that you are highly visible to those in the industry and let them know you want to enter this field.
Start by involving yourself with the related industry discussions on LinkedIn, join professional associations and relevant groups and take part in networking and career events online.
This will help you build the connections which will benefit you as one of the main ways companies recruit is through recommendations.
Once the opportunity presents itself, you need to be ready with a kickass resume, elevator pitch about your personal brand and an updated LinkedIn profile.
Do You Have Any Tips For Those Looking to Switch Jobs?
Why not head on over to our SeedlyCommunity and help a fellow member of the community out!