Ah, the old catch-22 of job experience:

You need experience to get a job, but you can’t get experience because no one will hire you, again, because you don’t have the experience.

It’s enough to make your head spin. This paradox discourages people from applying to jobs where they’d otherwise be the perfect fit, and companies lose potentially great employees because of it. But don’t panic. You can get the job even if you have little to no experience.

Follow these steps to learn how:

Realize the Job Listing Expects Too Much

If you’ve been intimidated by a job listing because it demands years of experience, when you’ve got none, remember that many job listings are hyperbolic. They want to hire the perfect candidate, and will sometimes be unrealistic with their expectations.

It’s like a dating profile where the person is very specific about his or her dream guy or girl, but would ultimately settle for less. Don’t be afraid to apply to a job because you don’t meet the requirements.

Use Your Inexperience is a Positive Trait

One trait valued by most employers is when someone is willing to learn. The person they want to hire is curious and interested in learning more about the job. When writing a resume, mention how you want to learn more about the field and would enjoy the company teaching you.

This may intrigue employers, you’ll come off as someone who will try and adapt to anything.

Do You Really Have No Experience?

When you think of job experience, you may believe you need to be hired by a company in order for it to be real experience. That’s not always the case.

Think about everything you’ve done. If your dream job involves computers, mention all the experiences you have had with computers at home or in school. If you’re applying to be a teacher, mention a babysitting job you’ve had. You can take parts of your life that seem trivial, but may end up giving you the boost you need for your foot to be in the door.

Even if it’s not relevant to your job, your experiences can translate with a bit of rewording. For example, volunteering at an animal shelter can be a way to prove to your employer that you have dedication and love for the world.

Narrow Your Search

Reduce competition any way you can.

With fewer people, you have better chances, and one way to do that is to search an industry specific job site or local job board. Some think that a job board that’s worldwide can give you better results, but sometimes this just increases the competition.

By doing it local or isolating an industry, you may have a better chance.

Be Positive

When talking to an employer, always be positive.

Don’t say negative phrases like “I know I have no experience, but…” Many employers don’t like someone who is going to beat themselves up. So don’t mention what you can’t do, and instead talk about what you can bring to the company.

Look the Part

“Dress for the job you want” is an old saying, but it has some relative truth here … in a way.

You need to make sure that all aspects of your resume, cover letter, and even your online presence lines up well with the job you’re applying for. Nearly 80 percent of all job recruiters look people up online before even bringing them in for an interview.

If you can clean up your image online, and have some relative professional achievements posted, these recruiters will find them.

Also, when you are brought in for the interview, make sure you follow that first line. You want to make sure your physical appearance is as professional as your digital one.

Don’t Forget About Volunteering

Your town should have a place to volunteer if you need more job experience.

Volunteering is a good way for you to get experience and also show that you’re able to give back to the community. With that said, don’t let the fact you’ve worked for free make you sell yourself short. Remember that you deserve fair compensation.

Above All, Be Realistic

Being confident and applying to jobs you don’t have the qualifications for can end up with you getting the job of your dreams. With that said, you’re probably not going to snag a high-level job without any experience. Don’t be afraid to tackle some smaller jobs first.

These can help you build the experience you need to get that job.

Having the experience can be a pain, but with some clever thinking, you may be able to get that job that appears to be out of your reach.


Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.

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