Early career

Building a successful career with limited experience

Daniel Jones
April 3, 2021
5 min read

Photo by Saulo Mohana

Whether you are a recent graduate starting to build your career or an established working professional looking to make a career change, the process of demonstrating you have the necessary skills is the same.

As a recent Politics & Philosophy graduate, I know first hand how difficult it can be to apply for new roles with limited work experience and how best to market the skills I do have. I have learnt the need to utilise the skills already gained and demonstrate how they are transferable to the role I am applying for, especially when they are not directly relevant. A similar process is required when changing careers, especially when moving into an industry completely different from the one you are currently in.

Learning to sell your previous experiences and tailoring the skills gained from them towards a job you have not done before is an art. Whilst it is one I am still learning to perfect, here are 3 steps I take when I apply for jobs with no experience…

Step 1 : Sell your skills

Firstly, look at the most sought-after skills required in the sector you want to move into and then break down different aspects of your background where you have demonstrated these broader skills. You most certainly possess them, so do not allow imposter syndrome to get the better of you and do not undersell yourself! If you can show that you have the broad skill set alongside a passion for that career, you are winning!

Photo by Matt Bero

I find that the STAR technique is particularly helpful for this and enables me to better articulate when I have shown said skill. It gives you a frame to set out a ‘Situation’ you dealt with, the specific ‘Task’ you had, what ‘Action’ you took, and the final ‘Result’. Just make sure you explicitly mention at the end how you would use that skill in a different context to:

- show you understand the sector

- show how those skills are transferable

Step 2 : Gain experience

You may have no experience in the career you want to go into, but don’t let that put you off!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM

No experience, no problem!

So, there may be gaps in your skill set or you may lack the experience to draw on when applying to certain roles. In these instances, plug those gaps by doing an online course. There are so many free e-learning courses out there. Attend webinars and online internships to develop your knowledge and demonstrate your interests. The recent move to a virtual workplace has made gaining small bits of experience so much more accessible because everything is online. Allowing you to expand your CV from the comfort of your bedroom.

Volunteering, even on a short-term basis, can also really enhance your CV and enable you to gain some valuable experience whilst making some great connections. If this means giving up half your weekend for a month, so be it! In the long run doing so will be so worthwhile to help you find the career you want.

Step 3 : Network

Photo by Product School

Don’t be shy!

I’ve learnt that most jobs are not advertised. My brother just landed his first job by directly messaging someone who works at the company via LinkedIn for a job not listed. These hidden opportunities mean we need to be proactive in getting the career we want.

- Reach out to employers directly via email or LinkedIn, or better yet, give them a call.

- Attend networking events.

- Ensure every CV and Cover Letter is tailored to the job you are applying for.

- Do your research!

Empower yourself!

As a Millennial (’90s baby here), I have grown up during the western world’s transition into an increasingly technology-based society. As a result, the constantly changing landscape of the job market is something I have learnt to embrace. When navigating my career, I must be open and flexible to change, to constantly learn, relearn and seek out new opportunities that diversify my résumé. For example, I’m doing an internship at Wojo to expand my skills and experience; whilst getting a taste of what working in a tech startup as a content marketer would be like.

Against the background of an ever-changing job market is our own personal growth. As we get older we discover new interests, establish new priorities, and with them seek to change our careers accordingly. This can feel overwhelming and can make previous experiences seem redundant. However, by following the above tips, I know that the knowledge and skills gained give me an edge that is transferable to any career I want.

Establishing and changing careers is no easy feat, BUT when using a roadmap, like the one Wojo offers, you can break down your journey into manageable tasks and utilise your personal edge. Wojo’s personalised digital career coach provides you with affordable, tailored advice that makes the career transition smooth and less stressful.

You can learn to navigate your way into a career that you want with ease, and ultimately be your own success story!

Daniel Jones

Intern @Wojo
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