Are you at the very start of your working life straight out of school, college or university? Or maybe you are someone looking to switch careers? You may be finding difficulty in getting that first job in your chosen industry thanks to having no experience. Unfortunately, in today’s economic climate where there are more candidates than there are jobs, companies can be very selective as to who they want to employ which means you may be having a great deal of difficulty.
If you place yourself in their position, it’s perfectly understandable. With recruitment costs running into the thousands when factoring in things such as the advertising of a job and the time out by staff to sift and interview applicants (as well as the fact the business is not operating at full capacity), it’s easy to see why experienced candidates are often preferred. They will have benefits that can include:
- Direct experience of working in the industry and in the role in question
- Lots of industry contacts
- Can ‘hit the ground running’
- May already know team members
- No time (and therefore money) needed to teach them the job
However, all is not lost and it is possible to get a job without any experience, it just takes some hard work, a lot of ambition and confidence in yourself. Be warned, it’s not going to be easy and you are almost certainly going to have to face knockback after knockback. But be persistent, keep believing in yourself and be smart and you will get there eventually and your new career will be all that more rewarding because of the effort you have put in. Just follow our advice on the steps you need to take and despite your lack of experience, you will soon have that job you have been dreaming about.
What Are Your Expectations? (And Adjust Them If Necessary)
If you’re already into your career and think that you can move sideways into an equivalent level in a new industry then you may have to reassess your plans. To get a foot in the door without experience means that you may have to take a lower paid, lower level job. However, work hard and you could soon be up to your previous level but in an exciting new industry.
The same can be said if you are a graduate. If you’re looking to move into an industry that you have no work experience in and your degree is not related to, be prepared to lower your expectations. You may have to forget the graduate level roles and apply for more entry level positions. This can give you the vital experience you need to build a solid foundation for your career.
Volunteering can be a great way of getting experience. Various charities are crying out for people to help them in a wide range of ways. Whatever experience you are lacking in, it may be an option for you to volunteer at a charity and gain it. You may also be able to pick up some qualifications on the way too which will make you very employable. It’s not just direct charity type roles such as working with children, the elderly or the vulnerable that you can gain experience in. Charities are like any other organisation and need people to help them with finance, marketing and other business type services to keep them running efficiently. By volunteering, everyone’s a winner. You get some great experience and the charity gets the benefit of you helping them out for free. For more information, check out NCVO.
Quite how you network will depend upon the industry that you are entering, but there is some general advice that will be applicable. Attending events, meetings, groups and other opportunities where people from your prospective industry are is a great way of getting your face known and uncovering opportunities that you may never have heard about. Examples include:
- Industry conferences – Here you will find professionals gathering to network, do deals and hear speakers on a range of topics
- Expos – These are where businesses showcase their goods and services to the public and other professionals
- Networking groups – Some particular industries have dedicated networking groups for professionals to get to know other professionals.
- Professional organisation events – Some industries have professional organisations (such as the chartered accountancy bodies) and they may have a range of events that may be suitable for you to attend and network.
- Recruitment and graduate fairs – These are great places to get a conversation going with the people in charge of recruiting at a range of companies and organisations.
The key to this sort of networking however is not to go there with the aim of getting a job, that will just make you come across as a bit desperate. The key is to show that you are interested in the industry, passionate about it and only then drop it in that you are looking to get into the industry.
Invest In Training And Courses
For many careers, there is nothing to stop you funding your own professional qualifications as a way of getting your foot in the door. They’re a great way of showing prospective employers that you are deadly serious about a career in the industry and are prepared to put your money where your mouth is. Look at other options as well. Providers such as Virtual College offer you the chance to study for a wide range of employment courses that can make you more and more desirable as a candidate. Check out their online course catalogue here.
Keep At It
Our final tip? Keep at it! As we mentioned at the start, it’s not going to be easy to get a job without any experience. But it can be done and as well as following our advice above, the key is to keep at it and be persistent. It will be hard work and you’ll come up against a lot of obstacles but it can be done if you believe in yourself.
Before we finish, there are jobs out there that do not require previous experience as full training is usually provided. Check out what jobs are available in your area via our “No Experience” job search page here.