Are you looking for your first job? Or have you decided on a career change? Successful job hunting often depends on the prevailing trends in the industry you want to work in and the general economy of the country in question. This may leave you feeling powerless or demotivated. However, if approached professionally, you can embark on a dream career, even without experience.
We asked Elena Karmazatė, Learner Hiring Manager at 'Turing College’ and HR veteran Simona Bareikė, who provide expert advice to software engineers, what advice they would give first time job seekers or career changers, who naturally lack experience.
According to the University of Queensland, research shows most people change careers at least once in their lives. In fact, the average person tends to go through three to seven careers before they retire. Additionally, because the mindset of modern workers is evolving, this number might even be as high as five to seven.
Getting a Job Without Experience
Getting a job without any experience is not only possible for recent graduates looking to secure their first job but also for those wishing to change direction at other stages of their working lives.
First of all, companies are developing solutions to attract, retain and develop junior specialists.
‘It’s important to be motivated, patient, and consistently put in effort and try the opportunities offered by the market,’ says Simona.
For her part, Elena adds that the constant lack of IT specialists has also led to employers rethinking their recruitment styles. Since the hiring processes of many companies in the IT sector can often exceed a year, alternative ways to find the right employee have begun to emerge.
‘A significant number of companies have concluded that it’s more efficient to take on an individual without any experience and instead invest in intensive training for that person in order to meet all the requirements of the position. This has led to many companies offering paid internship programs, through which the necessary knowledge for future work is acquired’, says Elena.
According to Simona, in the case of a career changer, it is a mistake to say that a person ‘has no experience’.
‘Career changers bring a variety of skills and experience that can be applied to other fields of work. Most know how to work in an organisation, as part of a team, set and meet goals or targets, cooperate with others, plan, communicate to those from specific fields and have leadership or line management skills’, says Bareikė.
The job market is constantly changing, and the importance of your experience level is greatly influenced by the field in which you want to work. However, according to Elena, trends in recent years have remained the same – the most sought-after roles are information technology professionals, data analysts and data scientists, and healthcare specialists.
‘If there is a shortage of workers in a particular field, there are automatically more opportunities for those without experience because companies are determined to accept someone who can learn quickly and support experienced specialists with smaller tasks’, says Elena.
According to both HR experts, finding out as much as possible about your dream field or profession is essential. Even when the demand for specialists exceeds the supply, putting in effort and demonstrating your commitment is vital.
Can I Afford a Change of Career?
For many of us, the reason we don't change careers is down to our finances. Sure, the job we’ve had for years might not be very satisfying, but it offers a stable income and pays the bills, and that’s particularly important if you have dependents or debts to pay off.
Changing careers can mean waiting a little longer for your first paycheck, and it's no surprise that the initial switch to taking on a dream job comes with a lower income. Clearly not everyone can afford to take this leap of faith.
If you have just finished a course or training scheme but have no work experience at all, companies will likely offer you a junior specialist salary. Though, again, a lot depends on your previous work experience.
‘Usually, employees are interested in retrained specialists because of the previous experience they bring with them in addition to the knowledge and abilities acquired during training. For those wanting to retrain, I always recommend considering how the tasks you did in previous jobs are relevant to those in the new role you are applying for. This will strengthen your image as a candidate’, says Simona.
Simona also suggests some pre-emptive financial planning to assess the costs and strongly advocates saving some money if possible to avoid a stressful situation.
‘Also, consider the salary trends of the profession in which you plan to retrain. In some professions, you might catch up to or even surpass the salary of your previous job in 1.5 years, which in the long term doesn’t make the short-term reduction in salary seem so terrible’, says Simona.
You should also compare salary rates by looking at job ads for similar positions in different companies. It’s also worth finding out what additional benefits are on offer, such as opportunities for professional development.
Step-by-step Guide on How to Get a Job with Zero Experience
Simona and Elena have made a checklist for those who don’t know where to start. By following these steps alone, you will up your game in your search for a job.
Create or update your LinkedIn profile. If you have no work experience whatsoever, you should still share a short description of yourself in your profile. Describe in detail and share information on the courses you have completed or are studying and highlight your abilities. You can also use LinkedIn to follow the profiles of your favourite companies and find out about internship opportunities, etc.
Create a strong resume highlighting your skills, education, relevant coursework, projects, and any other experience demonstrating your ability. Adapt your resume each time you apply. Never send them in bulk.
Invest time in researching different companies and their areas of activity, and work out which area of work is most interesting to you.
Think about what motivates and interests you about the position you want and logically connect it to your strengths and skills.
Gather valuable experience through volunteering, internships, hackathons, networking and other activities. This is especially important if it’s your first job.
Realise that job hunting is work and requires effort. And lastly, try to stay positive!
How to Make Your Tailored Pitch Stand Out (And Why You Need One)
So, after much time and effort, you’ve finally been invited to a job interview. We’ve already covered how to prepare for a job interview HERE. But we also have something extra to add – both Simona and Elena agree that employers and HR professionals really like a tailored pitch.
A tailored pitch is essentially a short overview of your background, what you want, what you are planning, and why you are in that particular job interview. In reality, it’s like an ‘elevator pitch’, in which you have 2 to 3 minutes to sell your idea to the investor. In this case, you are selling yourself for a specific role in the company. A tailored pitch demonstrates additional effort, uniqueness, an ability to specifically and clearly define goals, aspirations and expectations, and simultaneously express your interest in a specific company.
‘I think it's like public speaking here because you only have a few seconds to make a good first impression and hold the interviewer's or HR manager's attention,’ says Simona. And who doesn’t enjoy a good performance, right?
Simona invites you to imagine the situation from the perspective of an HR specialist, who on average, holds about 15 to 20 interviews per week and hears all the usual introductions such as ‘Hello, I'm Tomas, I'm 20 years old, I'm a hard-working and ambitious person’. If that person hears something completely different it will set you apart from the competition.
What should you include in a tailored pitch?
- Well-thought-out and coherent reasons as to why you want to work in the chosen organisation and position. Recruiters and Hiring Managers want to hear these reasons.
- Your experience and motivation should be linked to the chosen organisation and position.
- Your message should be prepared constructively and clearly. Put yourself in the shoes of the person hiring – what would you want to know about that person?
- Do not do a step-by-step retelling of your CV. It's more about opening the message with a strong sentence, highlighting your strengths and skills, stating your professional goals and what you hope to create/contribute/grow with the organisation.
- Don't be afraid to show your true self – grab the listeners' attention and involvement.
What Makes an Employer Decide to Hire Someone?
When you're looking for a new job and if you've done your research, you know exactly what job it is you're looking for. You need a decent salary, great co-workers, a company culture where you fit in, and a fulfilling and motivating role. But what is an employer looking for in potential employees? What factors determine how a company decides to hire a particular person, e.g. you? As it turns out, their needs are very similar to yours.
‘Cultural fit, motivation and energy are very important. These are the three main factors that companies evaluate when looking for new employees’, says Elena.
Recently, employers have begun to be more interested in the cultural assessment of a person, considering whether their ethics and outlook align with those of the company. Additionally, employers have begun to pay special attention to the well-being of their employees, doing their best to ensure employees feel good in their working environment.
‘Meeting the requirements of the position has always been important, candidates should assess their abilities as accurately as possible before applying and realise that the main goal is not only to get to the job interview, but also to successfully fulfil the role while in employment’, says Elena.
Motivation and energy can make up for a candidate's shortcomings in meeting job ad requirements. If a person establishes a positive relationship with a company representative and can prove their motivation and desire to improve, they will likely progress to the next stage. After all, there’s nothing you can’t learn; everything depends on how much you want it and how much effort you are willing to put into getting it.
‘Employers often look at candidates holistically, and every new person hired as part of a team brings their own story. However, particularly in the case of junior positions, the first thing that gets you hired is whether you’ll work well together, whether you are truly motivated, whether you’ll be able to accept feedback and grow, how open you are and, of course, how keen you are on learning new skills’, says Simona.