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Getting a Job with “No Experience”

If I had a nickel for every hiring manager who wanted to hire only people with specific industry or job experience, I’d have enough to buy a mine in Sudbury.

You have likely experienced this, either on the receiving end as an applicant or on the proffering end as a manager. Applicants wonder if they can get a job without experience whereas managers doubt if candidates can succeed without it.

I’m here to tell both parties that, yes, you can do it, with the advice I’m sharing with you today.

Sudbury, ON

Definitions and HR-Speak, Translated

Most job postings require industry experience with the assumption that they will receive better-quality candidates. What hiring managers really want, though, is a candidate needing less training because they already know the industry – its inputs and outputs, the lingo, competitors, et cetera.

You’ll also find job postings demanding previous work experience doing the exact same job or, at the very least, in the subject matter area. The unwritten assumption is that the applicant will require less training (again) and thus will become productive more quickly.

Why it Doesn’t Matter

Having worked in multiple industries from hospitality to pharmaceuticals to food manufacturing, I can confidently say people in different industries share similar needs. And, frankly, subject matter expertise matters less than lived experience when it comes to how people respond to challenges at work.

Let’s say an hourly employee has a mistake on her paycheque. It could be the hours weren’t submitted accurately. Or there was an extra payroll deduction that should have terminated on the previous pay period.

It really doesn’t matter if you work at a generic drug company, a hotel, or a bakery. How you treat that person remains the same. You express regret at the mistake, you investigate it, and you correct it. Straightforward, right?

The underlying skill, transferable across all industries and occupations, is customer service. You will not find a single business that doesn’t require customer service skills today.

If you’re hiring for a role requiring customer service skills, it doesn’t matter where a candidate acquired the skill or if it was in their subject matter. It matters that they possess it.

Portable Skills

What Does Matter

Applicants, when you hear hiring managers say, “You have no experience in this industry or doing this role,” please listen to me when I say, It doesn’t matter.

Here’s what matters:

  • Your willingness to learn;
  • Having the right attitude;
  • Being curious.
Be Curious

Focus on demonstrating, with examples, how you’ve learned and applied concepts previously, either at work or personally.

Show you have the right attitude of being open to new perspectives and ideas. Be positive.

Use your curiosity to find out what problems or challenges the hiring manager currently has. Then, talk about how your experience in other industries or jobs apply in the current situation. Use your varied background to your advantage, demonstrating how your broad-based knowledge could help your new company.

Career Success

You succeed at work (and in life) by knowing who you are and living it daily. I return to this theme repeatedly because it’s foundational. It’s my definition of a life fully loved.

Recognizing what success looks like puts you in the driver’s seat. You are no longer a passenger staring out the window at the changing scenery. You move from passively responding to actively seeking. You’re a driver.

The biggest gear shift for “no experience” isn’t even an action; it’s a mindset. See yourself in D, not P. That’s how you get a job with no experience.

For more tips on this topic, click here.

Photo by Iurii Melentsov on Unsplash, Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash, Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

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