7 tips on how to apply for a job when you have little to no experience

Revenue School Associate  Mauricio Banados-Cornejo

When you’re starting out, it can be tough to figure out how to best craft your limited experience into a strong resume for a job. Revenue School associate and new graduate Mauricio Banados-Cornejo gives you some tips to help out.

 

By Mauricio Banados-Cornejo, Revenue School Associate

Applying for your ideal job can feel scary because it leaves you vulnerable to being judged by people you don’t really know. To make this process more intense, the initial impression you make is forced to fit on an A4 sheet. 

People get hired this way every day, and surprisingly, many of them do not have all of the experience they need to get the job. Here are seven ways that I’ve found to improve your chances of getting an interview even when you are just graduating and don’t have a lot of experience. 

1. It’s your story and you get to write it.

This can be the hardest thing for people to do properly. People struggle to write their own stories for many reasons, but generally, it is because they haven’t quite figured out what career path they are committing to. 

Spend time figuring out your path, and then you can highlight your experience that matches the actual type of job you’d like, and write a story to explain how you arrived at that career choice.

2. Pick and match

Look at the requirements of a job listing as a key guide to receiving an interview, and aim to tick each one off in your resume. You can do this by including the work and experience you have already.

Maybe you were a barista, and you’re applying for a sales program (like Revenue School). You can highlight instances where you helped customers and they returned to give you repeat business. 

Maybe you started your own business while in university. This is something that can look really good on your CV regardless of whether it succeeded or not. There are a lot of skills you gain when starting a business: marketing, customer relationship management, financial accounting, etc. Highlight how you sold your idea and marketed it.

3. Write a cover letter about *why* you’re interested. 

The cover letter helps the reader understand your character in your own words, your background and why you are heading in this direction. 

Here it is best to demonstrate your passion for the position and how you fit in with the company’s culture. You want the reader to think you will add value to this team. Keep your cover letter to a single page and address it to the hiring manager. 

4. Highlight your impact to make a strong impression.

Include your unique contributions to the teams, activities and projects you’d like to include on your CV. Stay away from only listing job descriptions:

Organized employment events. Reviewed student CVs to check that values are aligned with companies they applied for.” 

Instead, you can rewrite it to include your impact:

Increased the application success rate by 27%, providing hiring managers with well-qualified and strong candidates by setting up an insight program.

This gives the employer a tangible way to evaluate you. 

5. Structure can be your greatest ally.

Make your CV structure easy to understand and lay it out in an attractive manner. Search the web for examples or use templates in Google Sheets, Word, etc. 

It’s good to chunk your information to make it easy to read. Include your most recent job, project, student club, or team with your list of impactful bullet points. You can also include a section on your CV with  your special skills, and technical and software knowledge. Make it as applicable to the job as possible. 

You need to be strategic about what you show to your employer. If they are specifically looking for leadership skills, then consider including a section in your CV dedicated to it. 

A good rule of thumb for applying to a job is a one-page cover letter and a two-page CV. If you have less experience, you can stick to a one-page CV.

6. Know your enemy.

Okay, let's get one thing clear: the hiring manager is NOT your enemy. We will not take any responsibility over what happens if you make it to the interview level with that advice. Your biggest enemy when applying for a job is not doing your research. 

The process of applying for a job is a demanding endeavor and requires your time and attention. You need to ensure you are devoting your time to applying to jobs you actually want at an organization you align with. 

You can do this by studying the employer website and social media channels, current and previous employees, and the industry. The research also allows you to tailor your application to that employer and stand out among the competition.

7. Apply on time. 

Make sure you record the close dates for all of the jobs you really want to apply for and apply well in advance. The only way you’ll be considered for that job is if you get your application in on time!

That’s it. You are now ready to go out there and begin acing those job interviews.