5 Ways to Break Into a Job Market Without Any Experience
You’re not alone in not having known what you wanted to do with your career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was a senior in college, and even then, I was an English major, switching from pre-med to journalistic ambitions, until finally I went to law school on a whim just because I got a decent score on the LSATs.
Now, I’m happily working as a corporate lawyer and own my own company, Unfold Careers. I had no idea what I was doing until I took chances, listened to my gut, and threw myself into as many professional experiences as I could. Here’s how I’d sort through the quagmire of starting your first gig in a field you have no experience in:
1. Reach Out to Your Network
Reach out to friends/connections/random alumni in your network that work in the field you’re interested in (for the purposes of this article, let’s say you want to work in HR). Ask them for a few minutes of their time to chat about what it’s like to work in HR and how they got their start. Tell them you have no experience in HR but know that it’s what you want to do. Offer to take them out for coffee or give them a call at their convenience. Do NOT ask them for a job but express your genuine interest in learning more about a career in HR and what you can do to better your chances of such career. They will either give you great advice, connect you with someone else to speak to, or help you find a job.
For more on how to network better, read more here.
2. Research Skills & Qualifications
Find out the skills needed to work in HR. Do intense research, which will include questioning those HR professionals you meet with (see above). If you cannot get a job in HR post-graduation, find a job that will hone those skills. You can then make a case that those skills are transferable to an HR job down the line.
If there are desired qualifications for your position, start obtaining those certifications, etc.
3. Don’t Stress About Salary
I understand that money is a huge stressor (it was for me too), but don’t let that get in the way of exploring careers. You will be afforded health insurance if you go private/corporate and you will be afforded health insurance if you go public, so the only career path that should stress you out is if you decide to become a freelancer (and even then, freelance health care options exist). You can also switch between government and corporate jobs at any time, so don’t feel like you have to be devoted to one or the other.
Salary is a major stressor for new job seekers and recent grads. Remember that very few recent graduates will make a high salary immediately. Use your first job to gain experience, build credibility, and learn how to navigate the professional world. You can always move on to a better, higher paid experience later.
4. Keep an Open Mind
So you have an idea of what you want to do, and you’re really excited about it. That’s great! But that idea has probably changed multiple times over the past couple of years. If you have to “settle” for a different job in a different industry than intended, don’t be upset about it. It may be a great experience, or you’ll develop excellent transferable skills. For more on why you would apply to jobs you don’t want, read more here.
5. Focus Your Resumé
Include work experiences relevant to HR. Then highlight skills and other activities (briefly) that pertain to skills required for a career in HR. If you have ZERO relevant skills or experience, then do your best to shape up your resumé and focus on your cover letter…
6. BONUS – Sharpen Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is where you’ll make your case for why you are qualified for an HR job. Explain why you are interested in a career in HR (and with the specific company) in your first paragraph. Then, explain how your transferable skills make you perfect for the job.
If you’d like help with your resumé or finding a job, we’re happy to help. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.