5 Job Search Tips When You Have No Work Experience

If you’re a recent graduate or entering the workforce after an extended break, you know it’s a tough market for those with little to no applicable experience.  We’ve previously covered how even entry-level positions are requiring in depth knowledge or hands-on skills just to get you through the interview door.  Amassing that work experience that makes you a viable candidate can seem like a circular predicament with no solution in sight, but there’s light at the end of the job search tunnel.  Keep reading for five helpful tips on how to approach your job search when you have no work experience.

1. Target Entry-Level Jobs

One of the best solutions for those with no work experience is often the most overlooked.  Narrowing your job hunt criteria to positions marked as “entry level” can help you find positions for which you may be otherwise qualified with education, personality or overall background.  Quality job sites will let you search for key works such as entry level, beginner, no experience required and more.  Use filters to narrow positions to a given location or field and be sure to set up email alerts to help stay on top of the most recent relevant openings.

2. Focus on Your Other Positive Qualities

While you may not have a great deal of on the job work experience, as a recent graduate you are likely chock-full of other positive attributes that may be attractive to potential employers.  From education to extra curricular experience, savvy hiring managers and HR professionals know that it’s often the presence of soft skills that make for the best long term candidates.  

Consider reformatting the traditional resume or cover letter to call out skills and experiences that you may have developed in school or life generally.  Being captain of a sports team indicates leadership and you should be sure to note if you coordinated team meetings, events or fundraisers.  Writing skills are highly demonstrable with that position on the school paper.  Debate, after school community involvement, self employment jobs such as dog walking, paper delivery and more all show off a variety of personality traits that may impress a potential employer and help snag that initial screening call or interview.

3. Consider an Internship

While typically an unpaid position, snagging an internship in a relevant field is a great way to bulk out a resume and score some valuable work experience in the process.  If you do manage to make it into one of these highly sought after positions, be sure to make the most of your time there.  Show up before your scheduled start and perform just as well as if you were collecting a paycheck.  In many companies and positions, internships are also chances for employers to vet potential long term employees ensuring a good work-culture fit.  Regardless of whether you land a long term position, you’ll have an increased resume and another rung on your experience ladder on which to build your career.

4. Do Good with Volunteer Work

In a similar vein as internships, depending on your desired career path a volunteer position may be a great way to add valuable work experience that tips the scales in your favor during a later job interview.  Volunteering your time for a local community organization or charity is a great way to demonstrate you have a bigger world view and understand the value of personal contributions in society.  If your ideal company has a large, existing volunteer partnership with particular organizations, consider tailoring your volunteer efforts in that direction.  Certain volunteer positions also provide hands-on experience that can be highly relevant such as legal workshops, project management and more.

5. Networking

While we may have saved this helpful hint for last, there’s no discounting the first rate value of networking when it comes to finding a job with little to no work experience.  When a company is faced with a wealth of qualified and over-qualified candidates, a personal recommendation can often make the difference between being overlooked and brought in for that valuable in person interview.  

Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn are great resources for finding like minded individuals in your target field.  Check in with your school’s career services department as they will often also host events that pair established professionals with recent grads for mentoring and more.  Consider joining a local professional association as a junior member.  Dues will often be lower or waived for those straight out of school and you’ll have an excellent opportunity to make relevant contacts and let your peers, and potential employers, get to know you one on one.

The No Work Experience Bottom Line

When it comes to entering the workforce for the first time, job-seekers need to get creative in order to compete with those that may have more practical knowledge.  Use one or a combination of our above helpful hints to pad your resume and create alternative job-market entry ways.  Most of all, persistence pays off.  Keep building upon your education, practical skills and connections and before you know it you’ll be well on your way to moving on up the workforce ladder.

Article Updated from the Original on September 16, 2017