You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. This is the problem that many young or inexperienced job hunters face – particularly graduates, who are expected to have a year or more of industry experience even though they’ve just left campus.

If you want to get your foot in the door of your dream career, it can feel like an impossible task.

Luckily, many businesses look for people with transferrable skills and a positive attitude, as well as a willingness to learn.

As long as you’ve been keen in previous job roles or during your studies, you’ll have valuable skills and perspectives that can help you access and succeed in the job you’ve always wanted.

Let’s look at 3 ways to improve your application without industry experience:

1. Highlight your transferrable skills

Any kind of work experience is useful: whether it’s working in a bar, stocking shelves in a supermarket, helping to run a club at University, or volunteering at a school or care home. These roles all share three key aspects: working with others; following instructions or requests; and evidence of success.

Teamwork and serving customers is at the centre of most roles, and these skills are very transferrable. They hone your social and customer service skills, your patience, listening skills, empathy, and respect for how others work.

Most jobs involve following instructions or fulfilling requests from customers, colleagues, or management – and doing so amiably and willingly. If you’ve worked hard in a past role and received praise, use this as evidence of working successfully.

Having these qualities makes you a highly desirable candidate.

2. Be personable

Many industries are moving away from strict professionalism and opting for a more relaxed and friendly work environment. That’s not to say everyone must do away with acting professionally at work; rather, you should show personality. Show your prospective employer that you bring your heart and soul when you go to work.

Portray yourself as a sociable yet hard-working individual who knows when to let your identity shine and when to straighten your tie or apron and represent the business. Show your earnestness towards work: highlight examples from past roles to show that you put in all your efforts whatever the job or task may be.

A balance between charisma and professionalism demonstrates that you have a positive attitude towards work, and is what makes a company excited to have you on their team.

3. Fine-tune CVs and cover letters

All your prospective employers know about you and why you’re suitable for the job is in your CV and cover letter. An overcrowded CV is not impressive; it’s disorganised and unfocused. Don’t leave the person reading it to try pick out what is and isn’t relevant. If you haven’t been selective with what you include, then the employer won’t be convinced you even know why you’re qualified for the role.

This is why you must do more than simply draw the dots: you must connect them.

Tweak your CV and cover letter for each job you apply for. Show which attributes about yourself are fit for the job and bring value to the company.

Consider using the STAR technique in your cover letter to complement your application. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result: the structure you should follow to highlight relevant experience in your cover letter (it’s also effective to use in interviews). STAR enables you to provide specific examples of how you effectively carried out tasks and the positive results you achieved, which gives your prospective employer a strong impression of your aptitude.

Make sure your CVs and covering letters are concise, have plenty of white space, have clear headings, and are easy to scan read: make use of bolding and short, digestible paragraphs.

It can be frustrating if writing is not your natural talent: this is a disadvantage that many people face when applying for jobs. But the more you practice, the more attuned you become to errors, inconsistencies, missing or excessive information, and repetition in your CV and cover letters.

Plus, there is always someone who can proofread for you, whether it’s a friend, relative, colleague, or tutor. They can spot typos or highlight positive aspects about yourself that you’ve forgotten to mention. With a strong CV and cover letter, you can sell yourself to just about any role.

Author Bio: Liz Burton is a Content Author at High Speed Training: a UK-based online learning provider that offer a vast range of training courses, including Business Skills, Health and Safety, Food Hygiene, Safeguarding, and Personal Development. She has a degree in English and Creative Writing and is skilled at writing about technical subjects in a style anyone can understand – she enjoys supporting people’s learning.

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