If you’re applying for your first job or are transitioning into a new industry, you will find that every employer wants something that you don’t have: experience.
While it isn’t exactly easy to land a job without any job titles or industry experience to your name, don’t lose hope because it is possible. You will however, need to do some detective work and make an extra effort to craft your resume in a way that shows prospective employers that you can be an asset to their company.
So without further ado, here’s what you need to do to write an impressive resume when you have no experience.
1. Thoroughly research what the employer is looking for
One of the worst things that you can do when applying for a new job is to send out a generic resume. Recruiters and hiring managers have hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of resumes to sift through and the last thing that they want to see is a resume which does not take into account the needs of its primary audience: the employer.
Before you start writing your resume, put your detective cap on and thoroughly examine the job description that you are applying for. What kind of candidate are they looking for? What skills and experiences are required to work in this role? Every job description contains keywords. For example, the employer could be looking for a creative self-starter or someone who is highly organised and always delivers on deadline. By identifying these keywords, you will have a blueprint of all the key points that you need to address when tailoring your resume.
2. Connect with the recruiter or hiring manager
Don’t just be another person who shoots out their resume into the Internet wilderness in hope for the best. Whether by phone or via LinkedIn, connect with the recruiter or hiring manager and initiate a dialogue with them. This gives you the chance to clarify anything that is unclear in the job description and uncover any points that may have been left out. By taking this extra step, you will achieve two things: you will have a much better idea of what they are looking for and the recruiter or hiring manager will have an idea of who you are as a job candidate. While this will obviously require more work, it is a signal to both yourself and to recruiter / hiring manager that you are serious about applying for this job opportunity.
3. Communicate your career objective
Having the right skills and experience is just one part of landing a job. The other part, which is quite frequently ignored, is how well your career aspirations fit with the company that you are applying to work with. Unless the employer is looking for someone short-term, there is a chance that they will hire someone who lacks experience but is passionate about working with them over someone who is qualified but lacks interest. The reason that this is the case is simple: skills can be taught but passion and aspiration cannot. At the outset of your resume, reserve a section to clearly outline your career aspirations and make sure that working with your prospective employer fits in with this.
Example (for applying to an advertising agency)
I’m a recent visual communications graduate who is seeking a junior designer position with a small to medium-sized advertising agency. With experience in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, I am excited to put design principles into practice and work with other creatives to bring campaigns to life across an array of digital platforms.
4. Identify your transferable skills and achievements
Although you may not have the specific industry experience that your prospective employer is looking for, if you take a look at your life experiences in total you will find that you have many transferable skills to offer and achievements to support their validity. Let’s take the initial example of a job description which is looking for a creative self-starter.
Were there times in your past where you used your creativity and self-drive to initiate something on your own? Whether this occurred in a voluntary role, sports team, or a work, student or personal project, it does not matter. What matters is that you are able to identify an achievement that illustrates that you are in fact a creative self-starter.
5. Bolster your technical skills with further study
Although it is easy to transfer soft skills, it is much more difficult when it comes to technical expertise. For example, if a particular job description is calling for someone who is well versed at Adobe Photoshop, then that is a technical skill that you must cultivate to be able to work in the job. The most straightforward way to make up for the areas that you lack skills and experience in is to study them. Books are a great place to start, however short courses will provide you with much-needed hands-on experience. SkillsFuture offers a whole host of government subsidised courses ranging from digital marketing to graphic design and web development. By signing up for a SkillsFuture-accredited course, you will be able to save money and level up your technical skills while making your resume more attractive to prospective employers.