Applying for Jobs with No Experience

Last Updated, 8 October 2021
Written by <a href="" target="_self">Nicole Wren</a>

Written by Nicole Wren

Applying for Jobs with No Experience

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Career Advice

We hear regularly from people wanting to apply for a particular role, but they don’t quite meet all the requirements listed in the job ad. Sometimes they’re targeting a role a few steps up within the industry they’re experienced in. Other times, they’re making a career change.

“I know I can do the role,” they often say, or “I don’t have the experience, but I’m willing to learn”.  They often ask us: “Should I even apply for the job if I don’t meet all the requirements?”

The answer is: it depends. Some industries are more likely to look beyond your actual experience and see your potential.  This is usually the case for the private sector. Government employers are more likely to use strict selection criteria, and if you don’t have the experience the role is asking for, you’re unlikely to be deemed suitable for the role. When it comes to government roles, we usually recommend that unless you can clearly demonstrate you have the experience specified in the selection criteria, you may be better off waiting for a more suitable position. If it’s a private employer, though, it may well be worth putting your hat in the ring.

How To Write A Resume For A Job You Are Not Qualified For:

  1. Ensure your resume reflects the role you are applying for. We often see people wanting to make a career change with a resume that reflects skills and experience relevant to their previous career. For example, we recently assisted a person who’d spent her whole life working in administration and customer service. She’d recently obtained a number of machinery tickets and wanted to pivot to a role in mining.  We focused in on her skills relating to safety, teamwork and resilience.  While she hadn’t mentioned it on the old resume, she told us she sometimes helped out in her husband’s business, which did involve some driving and tool use. We were able to refocus the resume so it was targeted to her new industry.
  2. Consider transferrable skills examples. Applicants are often guilty of stating they have a particular skill or experience, but not backing this up with a demonstrated experience.  This is an excellent method to ensure you stand out amongst the competition.  If you are experienced writing government selection criteria, you probably already have an idea of how to develop concrete examples, using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result), relating to your own experience.  You can use a similar method within your resume, perhaps under a ‘Key Achievements’ section or similar (after a brief summary of your duties).  For example, if the job ad lists you must have experience using a certain type of software, while you may not have the experience, you may have experience using a similar software. Now is the time to craft a specific example around this, for example, perhaps you delivered training in this to other staff, or used it to improve your efficiency in a certain task.
  3. Consider ATS keywords. Most of the big employers these days will use some form of keyword scanning software. While this can sometimes be overwhelming to applicants, in fact this sounds much more complicated than it is.  The important thing is to review key words and phrases in the job ad, and ensure you are also using these words within your resume and cover letter.

How To Write A Cover Letter For A Job You Are Not Qualified For

  1. Focus on the experience you have. Omit any reference to that you don’t have yet. 
  2. Get personal. It’s important in your cover letter to describe why you’re motivated for the role, and why are you applying.  Don’t be afraid to make it a little personal, though keep in mind your audience.  Recently, I assisted to develop a cover letter for a person who had previously been a tradesperson but was trying to obtain a new role in workplace health and safety.  He had had a workplace injury – which is generally best omitted within any job application. However, in this case, we left it in, emphasising that he was now fully healed, and after his accident he had developed a strong appreciation for the importance of ensuring safety requirements are met, leading to his interest in the field. This helped him stand out in a crowded applicant pool and won him the job.
Nicole Wren

Nicole Wren

Senior Writer

Nicole is the principal resume writer at Resumes to Impress. Nicole loves writing and sharing her knowledge about all things job hunting and career guidance.

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