Applying for jobs is hard work, especially if the positions you want don’t match your experience. Even if these are entry-level jobs.
Fortunately, job postings don’t tell the whole story when it comes to landing a job you know you can do. The career path may not be completely clear, but you still want to jump on it.
There are plenty of ways to successfully apply for your dream job, even if your resume doesn’t. exactly correspond to a job offer. And even if you apply for a job with no experience, no one will blame you for it, although you have to go above and beyond to land the job. Or at least gather your confidence and sharpen your communication skills.
6 tips for getting the job
We spoke to several career experts to bring you their top tips for job seekers struggling to find work with little or no experience and without a college degree. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Change the way you view posts
The first piece of advice we heard repeatedly was that job seekers should change the way they view job postings, regardless of their work experience. Does that mean using different sites or methods of exploring job opportunities to get your foot in the door or even land that assistant position?
Not exactly. According to career coach Kyle Elliott, it’s more of a change in mindset and attitude.
“Be aware that the job posting is a wish list,” says Elliot. “You don’t have to have all the qualifications listed in the job posting. Instead, focus on the experience, knowledge, and skills you have that match the job posting.
Along with highlighting the skills you have on your cover letter and resume, Elliot also suggests avoiding the age-old mistake he often sees as a career coach. You can still get a job with no experience, but you don’t have to continually point out your lack of experience. After all, you’re trying to get a job with no experience.
“Instead, consider how you can strategically market your non-work experience on your resume. If you’ve started a side hustle, started a business, or pursued relevant extracurricular activities, you may want to include these in your career marketing materials,” explains Elliott.
2. Speak their language
While it’s important to keep things positive when it comes to a successful application, you’ll also want to make a habit of reflecting a company’s language on your application.
Are they looking for a team player with good ethics? Talk about that employee of the month award or the fact that you haven’t had any sick days in the last year.
“Speak the language of your target company,” says Elliott. “Use the job posting as a recipe card for writing your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other career materials.”
For example, he says, if you’re aiming for a customer success role and you’ve worked in food service before, focus on how successfully you dealt with customers. Explain how you have regularly succeeded in persuading customers to order an appetizer and A dessert to earn more money for both you and the restaurant.
Practice translating the story of your previous work experience into something your potential employer can appreciate. It’s even more impressive if you’re aiming for an entry-level job.
“While an experience or accomplishment may seem unrelated at first glance, almost any story can be translated,” Elliott says of efforts to find a job.
3. Work backwards to show how you fit
To expand on that last point, “working backwards” is a great strategy for writing a resume or application for a specific job, especially if it’s a job you feel underqualified for. It is important that you show how you will compensate for this, whether it is work ethic, education or attitude.
“Your role as a job seeker is to connect your experience to the role you’re aiming for,” says Elliott. “It makes it easier for the hiring manager to review your employment history.”
Be sure to capitalize on experiences that match what your employer is looking for, but remember to leave out anything irrelevant. This will weaken your candidacy and torpedo your chances of getting job interviews.
For example, if you spent a summer picking berries and it doesn’t have a strong connection to the job posting, that might be one of those things you cut. However, if you can show how you learned soft skills — communicating with colleagues and maybe clients — then you make your experiences more relevant.
The same could be said for volunteer work that doesn’t bring in money but lots of on-the-job education, including problem-solving skills, as well as time-management and team-building experiences.
By selectively including experiences in your efforts to obtain employment, you not only display your skills as a qualified employee, but you also convey your understanding of the role. Companies want to know they’re hiring someone who understands what they need, which you prove by using their posting as a template for your job application.
4. Highlight motivation on the cover letter
Another great way to draw an employer’s attention to your application is to highlight your motivation.
If you like the work of a company or if its mission aligns with your values and goals, you should include it in your application.
“Convey a deeper understanding of the company and specifically the industry or sector in which it operates to show your personal motivation to enter the industry,” suggests networking expert and author J. Kelly Hoey.
It’s more than saying something generic about your interest, Hoey says.
“Tell the story of why you committed to entering the industry, because your ‘why’ reveals that you are more than just another candidate looking for a job opening.
5. Remember: quality over quantity
Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to apply for as many jobs as possible. You can copy-paste a slightly edited cover letter and rework dozens of times for dozens of posts in the span of an hour.
But somewhere in the rush, you might find that the quality of your applications starts to drop, or even that you inadvertently apply for jobs you really don’t want.
This is where it helps to keep a simple “quality over quantity” mantra in mind. “Focus on quality over quantity when applying for roles,” says Elliott. “Rather than applying to all vacancies in a company, select a few key positions that you are well qualified for.”
Not only will being selective help you present yourself as a more serious candidate to employers, it will also ensure that you are able to bring your A-game to every application.
6. Expand your network
The time spent looking for your next job can seem long and unproductive. But keep this in mind when looking for jobs and waiting for job offers to come in: When you apply for jobs and get interviews, you’re building a professional network. Every recruiter, hiring manager, and potential colleague you connect with is now part of your network.
“Be patient and make it part of your job application routine to stay in touch with everyone who helps you along the way,” says Hoey. “By doing so, you’ll have mentors to turn to when you land the job, and you’ll stay ahead of the people closest to the job market you’re looking to fit in.”
You never know when new opportunities will arise. Go the extra mile to have positive interactions with everyone you meet during your job search.
Contributor Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate and lifestyle. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally posted on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers across the country to make smart decisions with their money with practical, inspirational advice and resources on how to earn, save and manage money.