How to Get an Interview with Limited Work Experience
In a recent article I was reading, the author explains the concept of the Permission Paradox. In plain terms, it is the contradiction of not being able to get a job without having experience, but also being unable to get the experience needed to land the job.
This isn’t just relevant to those entering the workforce for the first time, but also to those looking to climb the corporate ladder or changing careers. Because of this ironic statement there needs to be some exceptions to the rule that will allow you to land the valuable interviews you need in order to get your dream job.
One of the keys to overcoming the Permission Paradox is understanding that when you apply for any job you will be evaluated along two different lines: your potential to add value in the future and your track record in the areas most specific to the job.
It’s All About Marketing Yourself
As discussed in some of the previous chapters in this book, it’s quite important to know how to market yourself. Think of yourself as a product that needs to be sold, how will you present it and what will your catch phrase be?
1. Write The Winning Resume
Unfortunately, before you can ‘wow’ the employers with your awesome interview skills, you have to land the interview to start with and this will depend on your resume. The toughest part of a job search is to be an impressive candidate on paper without sounding over the top. It’s about finding the right balance between showcasing your skills, being clear on your goals and presenting your achievements.
The first step you will take in landing your interview without any industry experience is to get the structure of your resume right.
You might have loads of experience working but in a field that isn’t relevant to the job that you are applying for. In this case, it wouldn’t increase your chances of success by rambling on about your experience in real estate if you in fact want to become a software developer.
Find a way in which your previous experience can be linked to your goals in the desired industry. It would also be wise to mention your career change in your introduction so that you don’t come across as someone that leaves out crucial information. This way they will also be able to view the rest of your resume by keeping your switch or lack of experience in mind.
Many times, the requirements and job expectations are just a prospective employer’s ultimate wish list. You might feel under-qualified or intimidated when you read the job advertisement, but remember that the description you are looking at is structured to finding the ultimate employee, according to the employer. Yet, they will probably take whoever comes the closest to this description and it’s highly unlikely that one individual with have it all.
Not every company will take the time to read through every little detail of your resume. They will be speed-reading and scanning the points most relevant to the position they are hiring for. In that case, you should be structuring your resume in such a way that your possible experience relevant to the position stands out.
Even if your studies aren’t relevant to the industry you want to enter, it still shows that you are driven and focused on reaching your goals. Sometimes, the Human Resources personnel might consider you as a possible candidate just because you were in the same school – you never know your luck.
Goals and Vision
In this section, you need to convince your prospective employer that giving you a go will be worth the effort.
As mentioned earlier with the Permission Paradox, there are ways in which you are being evaluated and one of those is your potential value. Showcase this value by demonstrating that you have the right attitude, curiosity within the industry, great communication skills, enthusiasm, and a good work ethic. This will add to your overall score and it’s crucial to increasing your chances of landing an interview.
2. GET INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE
There may be no better way to demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment to a job for which you are marginally qualified than to offer to work for a short period on an unpaid trial basis.
This might sound rather tedious, especially if you’ve already been working for more than 10 years, and changing careers feels like starting at the bottom. Your chances of landing an interview, however, will most definitely increase if you’ve done an internship or two within this field.
It doesn’t matter how long the internship lasted, it is about showing that you are willing to sacrifice your time and energy in gaining valuable experience within a particular field.
3. BUILD INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS
In the world of business, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Even though this doesn’t seem too fair, it is very much a reality.
“The best way to make it to the top of the resume pile is to network. Your goal is to have someone hand the resume to the appropriate person and say, ‘I think we need to look at this person.’”
– Susan Ruhl
Especially when you don’t have any experience within a particular industry, it would really help to have an industry connection put in a good word for your.
4. CREATE INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES
Without industry experience you might be having some problems landing that particular interview at your dream company. Why not take your chances by contacting other companies and suggesting an interview? This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have the right attitude and do your research accordingly you could even ‘create’ the position you are after.
A great way to find out about possible open positions is via social media. Follow the brands and companies that you want to work with and check for clues and ‘we’re hiring’ posts to get in on the action before these jobs or positions are posted on career portals.
By building a relationship with a company via social media channels your name will be more than just a number when they view your interview application. If you have a relationship with the brand, your chances automatically increase to land that coveted interview.
5. BE ASSERTIVE
A great way to set yourself apart from your competition is to go after it is what you want.
Although this seems risky and you might come across as being overly ambitious, you will most definitely create curiosity. It’s about getting yourself in the position to land an interview, so do what you have to do.
Don’t be afraid to contact the hiring manager. After applying for the position you could just send a follow-up email or make a quick phone call to introduce yourself and notify them of your application. The worst that could happen is that they turn you down – and then you would be exactly where you started – which is where you were without an interview; so why not take the risk?
If you know your strengths lie in your sales ability and persuasion skills, then make use of those strengths to set yourself apart and land the interview.
As you can see, there are many ways you can land an interview without having much – or any – experience.
Every career I’ve ever had, I entered without having any experience. Some of these include professional boxing promoter, Public Relations Director for an Indy 500 race car team, financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, record-breaking real estate agent, and on and on and on. It’s doable, I promise you.
By Alex Simon is a career reinvention coach and speaker. Often referred to as “a master at breaking into sexy and exciting careers”, he has promoted world title fights, managed Indy 500 race car drivers, worked for a Wall Street giant, and is the subject of Starsuckers, an award-winning documentary on the pursuit of fame. Check out his website, find him on YouTube, or add him on LinkedIn!