How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

You can land a job without any experience. Use these strategies to submit your applications with confidence.

[Featured Image] A young man in a wheelchair smiles confidently as he prepares for his first job search.

Whether you are a first-time job seeker or a career switcher hoping to pivot to a new field, the job search can be equal measures exciting and nerve-racking.  A new career is in sight, but how do you get it, especially when you lack relevant experience or have no experience at all?

If you’ve been asking yourself this question, then this article is for you.

Here, you will find eight tips on how to get a job without experience, including actionable explanations and concrete examples to help you get started. 

Your next job could be right around the corner, read on to find out how to land it. 

How to get a job without experience: tips and examples

A lack of experience doesn’t mean you can’t land a job. It just means you have to go about the job search strategically. The following eight tips have been crafted to help you do just that.

1. Aim for entry-level positions.

Entry-level jobs are the earliest positions on a career path. Unlike more senior positions, entry-level jobs don’t expect applicants to possess years of professional experience. As a result, focusing your search on entry-level positions will improve your chances of getting a job that can lead to something even bigger. 

There are several ways you can find entry-level positions online: 

  • Go to a job platform and search “entry-level [job name].” For example, someone looking for an entry-level marketing position might search “entry-level marketing” on LinkedIn. 

  • Research the title of a specific, entry-level position in a field that interests you and search a job listing site for that title. For example, someone might search “junior marketer” on FlexJobs. 

  • Go to the job listing page of a business or company that interests you and search for any available entry-level positions. 

2. Tailor your resume. 

Your resume is your opportunity to highlight the value you can bring to your next employer. But, not all employers require the same skills, experience, or qualifications – even if they are advertising for the same position.

Employers have different needs and will highlight different aspects of a position on a job description. As a result, it is important that you tailor your resume to each specific position to which you are applying in order to improve your chances of getting an interview. 

To tailor your resume, follow the steps below: 

1. Create a “master” resume with the qualifications, experiences, and skills you feel need to be highlighted in the type of position you are interested in. 

2. Once you have identified positions that interest you, read through each job description and highlight the skills, experiences, and qualifications that match your own for that specific position. 

3. Tailor your “master” resume for each job by highlighting the specific skills and experiences that were emphasized by their respective job postings. Try to mirror the language used, when possible, to help get through automated hiring tools like applicant tracking systems. 

4. Tailor your cover letter by highlighting the same skills and experience you highlighted in your resume, again using similar phrasing to the job.

5. Apply and repeat for future positions. 

Read more: Resume Keywords: How to Find the Right Words to Beat the ATS

3. Highlight your transferable skills.

Your transferable skills are the skills you bring with you from one job to another. These can be everything from technical (“hard”) skills like coding and wireframing to sought-after personal (“soft”) skills like communication, problem solving, and the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity. 

When you lack prior work experience in a field, highlighting your relevant transferable skills is a good way to demonstrate your value to an employer. For example, someone applying for an entry-level IT support job might highlight the communication skills they previously developed in a sales position or as a member of their high school debate club. 

Whether you realize it or not, you likely already possess some of the skills you need to do your next job, even if you haven’t worked in the field before. 

Read more: Transferable Skills: How to Use Them to Land Your Next Job

4. Emphasize your education and extracurriculars.

Work experience isn’t the only thing that prepares us for a job – our previous education and extracurricular activities do too.  

If you lack relevant work experience, consider emphasizing the skills you developed through your studies or as a part of an organization.  For example, someone applying to an entry-level UX design position might emphasize the specific skills they learned in design-oriented courses they took as an undergraduate. A recent high-school graduate applying for a job as a server might highlight the communication skills they honed as a member of a community leadership organization. 

Read more: How to List Education on a Resume

5. Build experience by interning, volunteering, or doing it yourself. 

If you are struggling to identify any relevant skills that prepare you for your dream job, consider interning or volunteering at an organization that could provide the necessary experience. 

Through internships and volunteer opportunities, you can familiarize yourself with the field and gain an understanding of day-to-day tasks, while also padding your resume with relevant experience.

For instance, someone looking to find work as a project manager might volunteer at a charity that organizes citywide cleanup efforts to gain experience working on large-scale projects. An aspiring social media manager, meanwhile, might intern with the marketing manager of a start-up to get hands-on experience handling a business’s social media accounts.

You can take matters into your own hands by working on a portfolio that showcases your abilities. This can be a good way to highlight your abilities to potential employers with real-world examples. 

6. Build a network. 

Your personal network has the potential to be one of the best ways to find job opportunities and actually meet face-to-face with employers. 

A 2018 study by the HR consulting firm Randstad USA found that although different age groups tended to use different channels to find job openings, people of all ages agreed that their personal networks were paramount to finding employment [1]. In addition to providing references, network contacts can also let you know about openings before they are advertised. 

Whether you already have an established network or not, you should make a habit of taking time to build and nurture relationships with contacts throughout your career. Some common ways to connect with people in an industry that interests you include: 

  • Attending industry networking events

  • Reaching out to companies or individuals in the industry directly

  • Creating your own group focused on the industry

7. Take courses to build in-demand skills.

Another way to build your skills and qualifications is to take educational courses, obtain a professional certificate, or pursue a degree. 

Today, there are many options available to help you further develop your skillsets. While community colleges provide cost-effective courses and associate degree programs, four-year colleges offer the opportunity to study a subject in-depth and obtain a bachelor’s degree. Professional certificates, meanwhile, train individuals in a specific skillset, such as Cybersecurity

Many universities and organizations also offer online educational opportunities. Coursera, for instance, has partnered with over 170 leading organizations and universities to provide over 7,000 world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs. You can even earn a degree online from such world-class universities as the University of Pennsylvania. 

Read more: Should You Go Back to School? 7 Things to Consider

8. Keep at it and evaluate your tactics. 

Every job search is different. While some might land a job in a few weeks, others find that it can take many months. A 2018 study suggests that the average time it takes to get a job is over five months, but in some cases, it can be even longer [2]. 

There are many factors that can impact the job search, so don’t get disheartened if it’s taking longer than expected. You can get a job.  However, you might consider adjusting your strategy. For example, perhaps you should spend more time growing your personal network. Or, you might consider getting an internship or taking an educational course. 

Empower yourself by being proactive during your job search. 

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As you are preparing for your next job, you might consider taking a flexible online course. Through professional certificates, you can develop job-ready skills for such in-demand jobs as social media marketing and project management.  

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Related articles

Article sources

1. Randstad. “Inside the multigenerational job search, https://rlc.randstadusa.com/for-business/learning-center/future-workplace-trends/inside-the-multigenerational-job-search.” Accessed February 18, 2022. 

2. Forbes. “4 Dangerous Misconceptions About A Long Job Search, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kourtneywhitehead/2019/11/10/4-dangerous-misconceptions-about-a-long-job-search/?sh=8bf82bd26cf2.” Accessed February 18, 2022.

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