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Top Tips: How to Land that Job With No Previous Experience

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Most professionals apply for a role they don’t have experience for at least once in their careers. Whether you’re looking for your first internship or full-time role, or you’re hoping to make a career change, it’s important to know how to apply for a job with no experience.

In today’s extremely diverse global economy, transferable skills are more important than ever. Of course, developing a strong set of technological skills is always a good idea, but it’s possible to land a great job even if you don’t have all of their requirements. Focus on what you bring to the table, and give examples to show how you’ll learn and grow quickly to make up for the skills you lack. Remember that you’re unique, and would be a valuable asset to any team.


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Here are 5 tips on how to apply for your dream job with no previous experience:

1. Be prepared

First things first: be fully prepared for every stage of the application process. That means submitting a cover letter and resume that are specifically targeted to the organization and the role. It means doing extensive research on the team you’re hoping to join, including their past successes, and especially their future goals. Come prepared to talk about how you’ll help them reach those goals. Once you land the interview, practice beforehand, dress professionally, and show up on time. These might sound like basic tips, but they’ll set you apart from the more qualified applicants who are late, unprepared, or unprofessional.


2. Make a connection

If you’re trying to figure out how to apply for a job with no experience, start by making connections. Connections between your existing skills and the role you’re applying for.  Highlight these connections in your application materials. From there, focus on building connections with the individuals you meet with throughout the process. Get to know your interviewer beforehand, through their company profile, LinkedIn page, or even their Twitter feed. Doing a bit of background research can help you identify common interests, which will come in handy when trying to make a connection during a short interview. Of course, above all it’s important to be yourself.


3. Bring specifics

At all stages of your application and interview process, try to be as specific as possible when talking about what you’ll bring to the table. This is particularly important if you don’t meet all of the requirements on the job posting. Break down your past experience into concrete success metrics, using data as much as possible. Draw connections between your success in a previous role and the new one. Are you applying for a competitive sales job at a top firm, but only have customer service experience?  Focus on your people skills, your customer satisfaction ratings, efficiency metrics, and specific examples of how you’ve helped customers understand and appreciate the product. Those connections can be made between nearly any fields, and if you’re a student or recent graduate applying for your first professional experience, draw connections to your coursework, volunteer experience, and more.


4. Show passion

One of the most important things to keep at the forefront of your mind as you figure out how to apply for a job with no experience is why you want the role. Identify your motivation, and make sure your passion is evident at every stage of the application process. Every skill an employer might require can be taught. But passion, dedication, and motivation are hard to find. Show your future employer how much you care about the industry, the role, and the company. A great way to show your passion is to come as prepared as possible, and to demonstrate a strong knowledge of the role despite your lack of experience.


5. Be willing to learn

Of course, if you’re applying for a job without any prior experience, you have to be willing to learn. It’s essential that your CV, cover letter, and interviews all convey this key element. Mention examples that show your ability to learn quickly, to adapt to new situations, and to think on your feet. Identify the skills you lack, and tell your interviewer exactly how you intend to gain those skills. Don’t forget to mention other skills you already have that you’ll be bringing with you!


Apply for an internship and gain hands-on experience in your chosen career field.



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Photos and blog by Maeve Allsup

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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