How to Get a Job without Experience

Are you looking to switch careers or get a new job? If you are just graduating from college and are trying to get a job in this economy it may be pretty difficult. There is a lot of competition out there and even if you had a job in college, odds are that there is someone with longer work experience. The truth is that it’s difficult to stand out with out a lot of relevant work experience. So, how do you get a job without enough experience?

Does this mean you need to resort to flipping burgers or serving cappuccinos at your local Starbucks? While some may be forced to do this because they are tied to their location, it isn’t a requirement. In fact, if you are creative and patient, you can find a good job. It may not be your dream job, but at least it will be in your field and helping you achieve your career goals, rather than just paying the bills.

Build Up That Resume:

One of the  first things that you can do to help get a relevant job is to build up your resume now. You may think you have plenty of training or expertise, but I can assure you that there are at least 10 (if not hundreds of) other people that are more qualified than you. Even if you cannot find a relevant part-time job, try your best to volunteer for an organization in the same field. The few hours a week that you spend volunteering will not only give you relevant experience, but add an additional item on your resume. When you are trying to stand out from your various competitors, ever little bit helps.

Take a Smaller Starting Salary:

Many people may disagree with me on this aspect, but a great way to get your foot in the door is to accept the position at a smaller starting salary. If you are confident in your work ethic and can be honest with yourself that you need the experience, it will be worth it in the long run to get a low-paying job that is in your field rather than making money as a pizza delivery person. While not a bad profession if that is what you want to do, if your goal is to work as a manager in the non-profit realm, it won’t help you achieve your long-term goals. Being willing to take a pay cut may help you stand out. It is important to clarify in subtle ways that you are worth more than this and this is only short term.

My wife accepted a job in her relevant field about a year and a half ago as part of the government’s Americorps program. If you know anything about this program, you know that you are basically a volunteer. You are compensated with a living stipend (and that’s it) that comes out to less than minimum wage for a year-long stint. While this put a strain on our family’s budget for a year, it set her up for a huge promotion just over 6 months ago at the end of her year term. Sometimes it pays to sacrifice for the short term in order to establish yourself within your field.

What other tips have you employed to get a job in your field?

16 Responses to How to Get a Job without Experience

  1. Frankly, it’s important to network. Most people don’t like to talk about it but the reality is that it’s more about who you know than what you know.

    Now, you don’t have to be some sleezeball that talks to everybody at an event, but talk to some of your friends and see if they have any connections at companies you might be interested in working at.

    • That’s a great point. I always make sure to make small talk with people. Not always out of selfish reasons, but sometimes. 😉

  2. Sometimes it helps to take a lower end job within a big company with hopes of moving up. That allows you to show your work habits and make a good impression with the management. With the bigger companies, they often post job openings to existing staff first to give them the first shot at applying.

    • Agreed – I’m hoping my wife can take advantage of this fact in the next year or two as positions open up. Fingers crossed.

  3. I have to agree with Modest Money as well. This is how I moved up the ladder at the previous companies I was at. Sometimes you’ve just got to get in and get your hands dirty. A huge benefit of this method is that when you do make it higher up, you know what it is like to be at the bottom of that company, which will help you do greater things if you keep those people in mind. Good morale is what makes a good work place, and if you can make happy workers, you will continue to rise to the top.

    • That’s a great point – it still takes a lot of hard work, but it definitely seems more achievable.

  4. this works great for someone who just happens to know someone who can give a great reference. But I was a stay at home mom for years, divorced my ex-husband and now am working a part time retail job while I’m going back to school. My degree will be in business management with a concentration in HR but everywhere I look the jobs are asking for experienced managers. I don’t have the type of network that Larry has and I don’t know anyone who can provide a reference or some type of internship for me. My school won’t help me until AFTER I graduate (which will be in another year) and I’m scared my lack of networking opportunities is going to make my degree pretty much useless.

  5. I totally agree on sacrificing if you really can afford it or believe in the company. Sometimes our desire to acquire a position can influence our hypothetical financial flexibility to a ridiculous degree and we need to be aware of that. One of my friends, who was the sole provider for his family, accepted a job – with no commission or promise of a review for $21,000. Three months later he had to give his resignation because his family wasn’t surviving. During his “exit” interview his employer said – “Why were you dishonest about your needs?” My friend was floored – he had never looked at it that way. On the other hand, I am the sole provider for my family and took a pay-cut for a job I really believed in. Because of that, whenever able, the company is good to me because of that sacrifice. The long and short of it for me is that sacrifices are good if they are realistic and temporary, if it’s not, the position isn’t right for you and have no fear the right opportunity will come along!

    • Wow – that would be hard to hear. It’s a great reminder that you need to ask for certain things.

  6. Starting at the bottom is a great way to get your foot in the door of an industry in which you have little experience. I’ve done this every time I’ve made drastic career changes, and it usually results in a better job in the industry within a short period of time if you can prove yourself as a good employee.

    • Yep – and that’s because every employer would rather take the safe hire than risking it on someone they don’t know can do the job.

  7. I agree with the accepting a lower wage in return for getting the job. The only caveat to this is to make sure you work as hard as possible and don’t settle for little to no raises.

  8. […] Corey presents How to Get a Job without Experience posted at 20s Finances, saying, “Are you looking to switch careers or get a new job? If you are just graduating from college and are trying to get a job in this economy it may be pretty difficult. There is a lot of competition out there and even if you had a job in college, odds are that there is someone with longer work experience.” […]

  9. You have to be the type of person that everyone likes and feels comfortable around. You also have to be good-looking. You have to be able to talk to anyone, comfortably, and everyone you meet goes away thinking “wow, what a great person. I’m glad I met him/her.” Then once you have that magical ability, network! And presto, you’re turning down job offers while everyone else is hoping for an interview.

    But on a more serious note, in my experience putting extra effort into superficial things (wearing makeup, wearing my uncomfortably tight pants that look great) are more helpful than they should be.