If you’ve never held a long-term job, it can be tough to feel like a “qualified candidate.” But, the fact that you haven’t held a position doesn’t mean that you aren’t suitable or competent. You’ll just have to work a little harder at selling yourself.
Maybe you have some semblance of work history, but are looking for something new. Seeking to completely change career paths? You might be considered as unqualified as someone who has never worked at all. How should you sell yourself to a new set of employers?
No matter your age, lacking a work history in general or in a certain field, means your past employment won’t offer an interviewer a clear view of your capabilities. But as an applicant, there are a number of alternative avenues you can take to highlight your skills and attributes.
If you are looking for a job in an unfamiliar field or as a first-time applicant, here are some ways to beef up your employment prospects.
CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION
Depending on the employer, education may be a major consideration when weighing a candidate’s qualifications. If you haven’t attended or graduated from college, enrolling for a degree might just be the endorsement your application needs. Have a degree but looking to change paths? Register to continue your education. It could boost your chances of employment in a new area where you have no experience. It never hurts to add to your educational profile to your resume. Especially, when sending your credentials to a prospective employer.
TAKE AN INTERNSHIP POSITION
Even though you (most likely) won’t get paid, working an internship is still a great way to acquire new skills. It can also help to get your foot in the door. I cannot tell you how many people I know who made the jump from “intern” to “employee!” Employers love to hire from within, and they also tend to reward those who put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Going above and beyond during your internship could lead to an offer of long-term, permanent employment.
VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME AND SERVICES
Employers tend to consider volunteer positions with almost as much weight as paid positions. It never hurts to take on some volunteer work, especially when it boosts your qualifications. Choose projects that feature skills employers may be looking for in a candidate. If you’re into party planning, offer your assistance organizing fundraisers or events for family or friends and include it in your resume. If you want to work as a photographer, offer your services to grow your portfolio.
USE YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK TO BOOST PROFESSIONAL IDEAS AND CONTACTS
Sometimes, it can take suggestions and advice from those around you to open your eyes (and your mind). Even to opportunities you may not have considered for yourself. Speaking from personal experience, I’m now working in a field in which I never saw myself. An employer noticed my skills via a personal connection and, impressed, contacted me about becoming a part of the company. Utilize your personal contacts. A recommendation made by someone in your network, who can attest to your skills, may just lead to an employment offer.
TAKE THE RISK
Selling yourself when you lack experience can seem like the hardest thing in the world to do. But, if you incorporate your interests, emphasize your abilities, and underscore your capacity to learn and grow, employers might just overlook your nonexistent employment experience. In favor, of everything else you have to offer.
If you come across a position that you feel you are fully capable of executing? Don’t let the absence of an occupation history deter your ambition. Apply for the position. If everything works out it might not only be your first job, but your dream job!