Have you ever been told by a hiring manager that you don’t have the experience they’re looking for? If so, it can be disheartening to hear, and can turn job hunting into a depressing grind. However, there are ways of working around a lack of experience. What follows will guide you through a process to help you get hired despite having zero experience.
1. Understand the role you’re applying to
If you’ve been turned down for jobs in the past for lack of experience, the real reason may be that you failed to sell yourself. You failed to connect the dots to show the interviewer that you possess the capabilities, soft skills, and talents necessary for the position. To do this, you need to fully understand the job you’re applying to.
So, the first step is to start with the description for the job you’re applying to. Print this out so you can write, highlight, and scribble on it (it can be helpful to use different colored pens when you do this). Carefully read the job description all the way through. Note that employers with specific or highly technical requirements put great effort into writing their job descriptions to clearly identify the type of person that they’re looking for.
After you read the description, read it again, and look for repeating patterns—where potential employers say the same thing multiple times but differently each time. Usually you’ll find about three to five different repeating patterns that all tie back to specific skills or experiences that they’re looking for.
2. Compare and map
The second step is to compare your resume side-by-side with the job description. Highlight it and draw lines from those repeating patterns that you identified in the job description to areas of your resume where you meet their requirements. You might find required skills and experiences you don’t have—but don’t worry about that right now. This is just the discovery and mapping phase. After comparing the two documents, you now know what they’re looking for and how it translates back to your level of experience. In other words, you have a map of what they need and how you think you could fill their needs.
3. Connect the dots
The third step is to connect the dots for the employer. Show them how you have what they need. Even if you don’t have a certain skill or experience, you can show them why it’s a non-issue. Describe how you’ll overcome it or how your past experiences have prepared you for this. Remember, the job goes to the person who poses the least risk to the employer. That is, employers give job opportunities to the people they believe have the best chance of success, not necessarily the ones with the most experience.
4. Create description statements
To bridge the gaps between what an employer is looking for and what you have to offer, create description statements. These show how you can meet their needs. These are not statements or documents that you show the employer but ones you create for your own reference to show yourself how you can do the job. This is your own map—your own plan of how you can do the job. Whether you have the experience or not, you still need to be confident that you can do the job well.
Description statements are where you start selling yourself. You might think that you aren’t good at selling, or that selling makes you feel uncomfortable. So instead of selling, think of it as educating the employer. You need to explain and teach them why you’re the best person for the job.
To create these description statements, go back to the job description, pull out all those repeating patterns of skills, then write about how your education, ambition, and past experiences have prepared you for the job. If you were to hand in this essay to an employer, it should convince them you’re the perfect candidate for this job, even if you have zero experience and nothing but theoretical knowledge behind you.
5. Get another perspective
To take this one step further, give a friend the job description and your mini essay. See if they’re sold on whether you can do the job or not. They could pretend to be the employer and ask you questions about your suitability to the role. By doing this, you might realize that you only have half the skills and experience that the employer is looking for. On the other hand, you might find that the only thing that’s holding you back is something small. Identifying your weaknesses in this way allows you to remedy them.
6. Step into the employer’s shoes
Employers are selfish. They’re typically only concerned with what you can do for them. They don’t want to hear about how this job is going to benefit you but how you’ll benefit them. So, to stand out, tell them what your own plans are for the job. How are you going to do it? How are you going to overcome any hurdles? Role-play the employee experience.
Also, make sure you know a lot about the organization before your interview. Doing this will give you an edge. Many candidates don’t know anything about the company they’re applying to. If you don’t know what a company does, or what their goals are, how can you be able to help them?
Even if your plan for the role isn’t 100 percent clear, having some plan shows that you’ve been thinking about it and how you’re going to follow-through. Let employers know that you’re not afraid of trying new things or wearing many hats.
A final note
In today’s fierce job market, the most important tip of all is to remain resilient. Keep in mind that companies receive hundreds of applications for each job vacancy. While hiring managers often share files with one another in order to review as many applications as possible, they still might not get to read every single one. So, it’s important to stick to the process and never give up. If you do that, you’ll maximize your chances of getting hired and eventually land the next step in your career.
Elea Andrea Almazora is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.