How to apply for a job when you don't have experience

How to apply for a job when you don't have experience

It can be a daunting process to apply for a job, but especially if you don’t have the experience a company is asking for. Companies are struggling increasingly to recruit qualified staff when replacing retirees – a problem that is currently costing Britain £6.3bn a year

If you’re looking to switch careers, now could be the ideal time to find a role that makes you happy and excited to go to work each day. 


1. Emphasise your training and qualifications

Your skills may not match exactly, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have experience and qualifications to offer. Pay attention to the training you’ve had over the years and consider how this might be beneficial in your new role. 

Gaining a qualification requires professionalism, determination and an ability to manage your time – all great skills that any employer would value, regardless of the role you’re applying for. 


2. Show experience from previous roles

If you don’t have enough experience, experts recommend showcasing your skills and ability to perform different job tasks as a way of landing a new position. Take a look at what your potential employer is aiming to achieve with this role and the larger ambitions of the company, then ask yourself if you’re able to deliver what they need. 

There will be experience and skills that you’ve acquired from previous roles that will no doubt help you with different tasks or projects, so this is well worth highlighting on your CV. 

Employers are often looking for problem-solving skills, people management, critical thinking and creativity – if you have experience from previous jobs that can fill these skill gaps, make sure to shout about them. 


3. Address the lack of experience head-on

While it’s always a good idea to highlight your skills, it’s also important to be realistic about your lack of experience as well. The idea here is to see things from the hiring manager’s perspective – what sets you apart from other candidates who may have more experience? 

When you write your cover letter, acknowledge your lack of experience and highlight your passion for the role and industry instead. You need to make a compelling case for yourself and explain why they should take a chance on you, in spite of the fact that you don’t have direct experience. 


4. Try volunteering

Volunteering can be a great way of boosting your employability, particularly for candidates who don’t have relevant experience. What you’ll lose in terms of pay, you’ll more than make up for in terms of contacts, experience and skills. 

Volunteering also shows that you’re willing to take initiative and put in the hard work in order to solve a problem – something that employers value enormously. Research the industry you’re trying to break into and contact companies to see if they’d be willing to take you on in a volunteering capacity so you can build your skills and experience.


5. Consider apprenticeships

In addition to volunteering, apprenticeships and internships can be a great way of boosting your skillset and gaining the experience employers are asking for. Apprenticeships make it possible to earn a wage while you’re learning and, in some cases, they can lead to a job at the end too.

Internships can last from a few weeks to a year, while an apprenticeship means you’ll be employed to work a full-time job while earning a qualification along the way. These are a long-term agreement with your employer and usually last between one and four years to complete. 


6. Target realistic roles

There’s nothing wrong with aiming high but you should also be realistic about the roles you’re able to take on without previous experience. A career switch often means starting at the bottom of the ladder and working your way up again, even if you’re working senior positions in your current role. 

So, when you’re looking for vacancies, seek out entry-level jobs and junior roles, so you can gain the experience you need and work your way up. It can also be useful to send speculative applications to companies you’d like to work for, where you can explain your situation and your desire to break into a new industry. 

With a speculative application, you may even be able to discuss creating a vacancy with an employer that doesn’t currently exist but fills a gap the employer needs help with. 


Final thoughts

A job search without the necessary work experience may feel frustrating but there are ways that you can get your foot in the door and gain the skills you need to succeed. Whatever your reason for wanting to change the direction of your career, there are various ways of combating a lack of experience.