How to Get a Job with no Experience
Sometimes it can be hard to recognize growth when you're stuck doing uninspiring tasks in a dead end job. But take a closer look, and you may be surprised by how everyday duties have helped build your career skills and work experience despite their nature.
I was recently conducting a mock interview with a young man looking for his first “real” job. Interviews are nerve-wracking for most people, and acing them is really something that requires practice. We reviewed his resume, and I asked some pointed questions about his work experience. What I found was that he had a real lack of confidence in the translatable career skills and work experience gained from the previous position he had held. I realized then that even experienced workers who are in the “underemployed” category could be feeling this same sentiment, and questioning how to get a job with what seems like irrelevant experience.
The young man I spoke to had most recently been a teller at a local movie theater—something he considered to be pretty uninspiring, a low level position that in no way related to the accounting job he desired. On the surface, this may be true. Peel back the layers, however, and you can see traces of responsibility relatable to the career he was so desperately looking for in accounting. The lessons learned are very real and when positioned correctly in an interview can score high marks in many of the categories that corporate hiring managers are looking for in their next potential candidate.
How to translate low level duties into desirable career skills
Dig deep into what you consider a routine part of your job. Recognize that what you do, no matter how trivial, ensures that your customers have a product to buy or a service to enjoy. What you do matters, you just need to translate those career skills and work experience into your current goal. Don’t forget to highlight awards, accolades, and general great work without straying from the reality of your responsibilities. Consider this young man’s movie theater example of how to get a job with no experience in the field:
“I sold theater tickets” becomes, “I was the first point of contact that patrons had when they entered the theater. I represented the company during this exchange and ensured that their first experiences with us were positive. I also managed the monetary transactions associated with the purchasing of tickets. I would bring this same enthusiasm and accountability to your company.”
“I ran the register” becomes, “I was trusted with $X in cash and credit transactions each day. I am proud that I met the company’s cash-drawer accuracy guidelines each shift, and made sure every financial transaction was done properly. There were several times when I had to deal professionally and calmly with situations involving credit card fraud. I was responsible not only to keep the company’s interests in mind, but also the cardholder’s. That attention to detail will be vital in this staff accountant position.”
“I trained new tellers” really means, “Theater management felt so confident in my knowledge and interpersonal skills that they depended on me to train new staff. I was careful to review not only the individual’s daily activities, but also the overall goals for the company. I made myself available as the individuals progressed in their employment to be sure they were comfortable and understood their roles within the overall operation. I am a team player and look forward to learning more about your company’s objectives and how I can be a part of them.”
“I often had to stay late to close the theater and clean up” translates to, “I am a very hard worker and not afraid to put in extra time to ensure things get done. I understand the demands this position will require of me and will give my full attention to completing all tasks that are assigned.”
“I often had to deal with angry customers” is probably something that most people in consumer-facing positions can say. While the interactions aren’t always pleasant, lessons learned from this are huge (and as a former retail employee, I remember those stings). Here, you could tell your future employer that, “My experiences with customers taught me how to be patient, speak effectively, and, most importantly, how to be a good listener. Providing exceptional service is key whether you are dealing with external consumers or internal corporate groups. I will bring that strong level of service to your company.”
Although these are just a few examples, and your current role may not match this one exactly, I do hope that you begin to see how some of your more menial tasks can translate into something much bigger for a much longer term position.
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What career skills from your “uninspiring” job can you bring to your dream job? Are there certain lessons or work experiences you had early in your employment that have been invaluable on your career journey?