For recent graduates, starting a career with no experience can be a Catch-22. What you lack in experience, you may more than make up for in skills and work ethic, but is that enough to land the job?

What are hiring managers looking for?

Employers will post positions with a laundry list of skills, knowledge and experience. An entry-level job requiring at least two years experience seems like an impossible feat. However, often a job description is the hiring manager’s wish list. A good rule of thumb is, if you meet at least 80% of a job posting, you should be dusting off your resume, not worrying about the other 20%.

5 tips for getting a job with no experience

Here’s how to improve your chances of getting hired for a job with little to no experience:

1. Identify your transferable skills

Transferable skills, which are often also soft skills, are capabilities that can be applied to a variety of roles or industries. Examples of transferable skills include creativity, problem solving and communication skills. 

Take the time to identify the skills you have developed, whether that’s through volunteer experience in school, your community, or summer employment. Prepped can also help you identify your unique job skills and capabilities.

2. Polish your resume

Update your resume to match your soft skills or transferable skills to the requirements of the job posting. If you have experience in any sort of capacity, include it! For example, time spent selling sneakers over the holidays counts as relevant communication skills. Be sure the wording on your resume mirrors the job description.

3. Write a cover letter that stands out

Don’t let a lack of professional experience hold you back. Showcasing your skills and capabilities in a well-written cover letter will help you to get noticed. Prepped has free online resources to help you craft your cover letter, with helpful tips on how to address your letter, conveying the company’s values and how you’re a great fit for the job, as well as templates to use. Get started by checking out Prepped’s free resumes, cover letters and email templates.

4. Expand your professional network

While in the beginning networking can feel overwhelming or awkward, it’s also a necessary part of finding a job. There’s some truth to the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Building your network is a vital part of your job search – especially if you have no experience.

Tell family, friends and colleagues you’re actively job hunting and ask them to help.

Before you attend a networking event or coffee date, have your elevator pitch ready. Your 30-second pitch should cover who you are, what you do, what makes you unique, and what you’re looking for. Remember, companies do rely on referrals, so don’t be shy in spreading the word.

5. Gain experience by volunteering 

Volunteering is a great way to develop skills and gain experience. Ideally, you want to volunteer in the industry that aligns with your career path. For example, someone looking to break into arts administration, volunteering at a film festival would be a great fit. Who knows, you may even have fun!

Volunteering also gives you a chance to network with others, which could open the door for future opportunities. Or, if one is available, apply for an internship, where you’ll get paid for your time while still gaining valuable experience.

Industries and jobs that hire without strong work experience

Searching for an entry-level job can be challenging, but the good news is there are industries in Canada hiring people with no experience. We’ve listed seven industries, an example of an entry-level position and the corresponding average starting salary in Canada.*

IndustryPositionSalary
HealthcareMedical assistant$27,700
AdvertisingJunior graphic designer$29,000
Public RelationsPublicity assistant$30,000
BankingCustomer service representative$32,000 
HRHuman Resources assistant$33,000
LawParalegal$35,000
ITJunior software engineer$38,000

*Source: Payscale 

Little to no work experience isn’t a problem starting out your career journey, it just requires a shift in thinking to market the skills you do have. Planning your career path is a process. Prepped can help build the necessary job searching skills you need to increase your chance of finding a job.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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