How To Get a Job When You Have No Degree or Experience
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Maybe you have no degree, you have very little experience, or the experience you do have isn’t relevant to the jobs you want. The fact is you can get a job without a degree. You can get a job with no relevant experience. And I’m going to show you how.
There’s no shortage of methods and hacks to get a job with little to no experience or education, but I’m going to provide you with the main ones that I believe work and will give you the highest return on your investment.
You don’t have to use every single method. Some might not make sense for your situation, like making a portfolio when you’re applying to customer support jobs. The best thing to do is use the 2-3 methods that resonate with you and makes the most sense for your situation.
Take Online Courses and Get Certifications
If you have little to no education, or your education isn’t related to the field you’re trying to break into, online courses are a great route.
There’s tons of online platforms you can use, but here are some that I personally have tried.
LinkedIn Learning: If you want to quickly get some certifications bolster up your resume, LinkedIn is the way to go. Some of the courses only take as little as forty-five minutes, and you’ll get a certificate of completion.
Coursera: For longer courses that can be anywhere from one to six months, Coursera is a great resource.
You’ll go more in-depth with courses that are from legitimate universities. This is a good idea if you’re trying to break into an industry where the barrier to entry is a little higher. Maybe you’re applying to project management, finance, or certain marketing positions where a significant amount of experience is required.
With Coursera, many of the courses have you graduate with a portfolio to showcase your skills which will come in handy when you start applying for jobs.
Pro-Tip: Any skills you learn in your courses (photoshop, data analysis, social media marketing, copywriting, ect) can also be added to the skills section of your resume.
You can also take courses on Skillshare, Udemy, or Udacity. Any of these sites are legitimate and will work. It’ll just depend on what works for you in terms of courses offered, the cost, and the time commitment.
Relate Past Experience to Your Desired Role
Oftentimes, when people say they have "zero experience", what they mean is that they don't have any relevant experience. But I disagree. Every job you've had can help you succeed in any other job you might get.
So it’s important not to undersell any past experience that you have. Think about it. Is it possible, no matter how much of a stretch, that your past experience can help you succeed in the field you’re applying for? If so, what past skills and projects will help you?
Let say you’ve been working in customer service, and now you want to work in social media management. You can relate your experience in customer support to digital marketing. For example, writing to customers via email and chat and understanding customer behavior aren’t too far off from digital marketing, which is very customer-centric and requires one to understand and empathize with the customer.
If you’ve been working as an administrative assistant but want to get into project management, you can relate your experience organizing meetings, staying on top of office needs, and meeting deadlines to most project management roles.
Those examples should give you an idea of what I mean. All it takes is a little creative thinking. Just ask yourself if anything you’ve done in the past can help you succeed in your desired position.
Make a Portfolio
Portfolios are great for the obvious things like graphic design, marketing, writing, and coding. But they also play a role in business, product design, and sales. Anything you’ve done in the past that can serve as an example of your skills or style can help you get the job.
Your portfolio doesn’t always need to be work you’ve done in professional situations. For example, if you’re applying for writing gigs, you can just write a few articles on topics that interest you, even though they aren’t for an actual job or gig. The articles would still serve the end goal of showcasing your writing ability and style to the potential employer. The same can be done for any field.
You can have your portfolio in a folder that you send to people, or you can create your own website with your work. This brings us to the next section.
Volunteer for an Organization in Need
If you have a portfolio and taken courses, and you’re still finding it difficult to get a job in your desired field, volunteering might be a good option.Volunteering your services to an organization in need is a great way to have actual projects that you can add to your resume or portfolio.
Websites like Catchafire.org connect you with non-profits that have a project that needs getting done. These projects can take anywhere from one hour where you are simply hopping on a call to consult, to a few weeks where you are really diving in to help the organization. You can find projects based on skills from data analysis, writing, web design, finance, entrepreneurship . . . basically anything.
Once you finish the project, you can add it to your resume under a Volunteer or Project section, as well as add it to your portfolio.
Always Submit a Tailored Resume
The biggest mistake people make is they submit the same resume to different jobs. This will result in hundreds of resumes submitted without any call backs.
When you find a job you want to apply for, make a copy of your resume. Then edit that copy of your resume to reflect the job you’re applying for. Find keywords from the job description and include them in your resume.
Also, make sure your resume looks simple, clean, and is only one page.
For more help with this you can see my article on writing your resume.
When Applying, Make a Personal Connection
Making a personal connection to the job you’re applying for is always a good idea, particularly if you’re new to the industry. Whether it’s in your cover letter or in an email, you want to express how the job is more than just a job. It is a part of your mission.
What does this look like exactly?
Well, when I was applying for customer service jobs I applied to a company that was in the health and wellness niche. This way I could connect my personal value of healthy living with the companies values as well. I talked about how I majored in Kinesiology and that I also healthy living and organic products have always been a part of my lifestyle.
Let try another example. Say you want to get into digital marketing. It’s best to break into this industry by getting into an area that is most aligned with your passion. If your interest is in music, apply to a company doing something in the music or arts space. If you have a passion for food, find a company that is in the food industry and that needs a writer, data analyst, or whatever job you’re looking to get.
People don’t care about what you do as much as why you do it. When you have a strong story for your “why”, you’re much more likely to get the job.
Build an Online Presence
I believe that eventually, having your own website will be as normal as having your own Facebook page. It is only becoming more and more common that employers will google you, and if it’s your own website that’s the first thing they see, you get to choose how you are seen.
Having your own website is a huge plus and is impressive to potential employers (even though setting one up is really easy). You can include a blurb about yourself and your goals, blog posts on recent areas of interests, or a list of your current and past projects. There’s really no limit or rule to what you put on your website.
If you’re interested in setting one up, I recommend Squarespace since it’s the easiest to get started. A lot of people recommend Wordpress, but it can get confusing and it’s easy to waste to much time on the design and set-up.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
Having a LinkedIn gives the people reviewing your application a way to be acquainted with you beyond your resume and your cover letter. And the more they see you as a human, the higher your chance is of getting hired.
When people I work with don’t have a LinkedIn, it feels as though they don’t know what’s going on in the modern-day professional world. Having a LinkedIn shows that you’re with the times, you’re professional, and it allows you a potential employer to learn more about you.
If you signed up for LinkedIn Learning, you would have automatically created a LinkedIn profile, so now you just need to update it.
Remember that it takes time to change careers, anywhere from 3-12 months. Have a long-term view and remember that if you consistently take action, you can have a completely new and improved situation a year from now.
Don’t be discouraged if your applications get rejected or not even acknowledged. You’re only one application away from a life-changing opportunity.
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