Olivia’s palms are sweaty. Though she’s been sitting in a red arm chair at reception for the past ten minutes, her heart feels like it’s beating out of her chest.
Because today is a big day. Today is interview day.
As soon as the clock strikes 5.05pm, a woman opens the brown doors leading to reception and calls out her name. “Olivia?”
“That’s me” she smiles. She grabs her black handbag and makes her way to the meeting room.
Within minutes of sitting back down, the interviewer dives in to ask her the one question she hates being asked “Tell me about your work experience.”
She’s anxious because the truth is, she’s not as experienced or qualified as the job description requires.
And so far, every single time she’s told someone about her experience, it’s backfired. Over the past couple months, every single interview she’s had has ended with her being told she didn’t get the job because she didn’t have enough experience.
Hearing Olivia’s story reminded me of me. It reminds me of all those times I made a career change and was nervous no one would give me a chance. In fact it reminds me of many people I know today who are tired of being rejected because they “don’t have enough experience.”
The big question is, what do you do when you don’t have enough experience for the job you’re most interested in? How do you end the cycle of being told you aren’t good enough?
In today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you the 5 steps you need to take when you’re inexperienced and want a job offer asap. The blog may feel a little long, but I promise you that if you follow through, you’ll become a far better candidate. You’ll learn what it takes to transform from being the inexperienced candidate everyone passes on to the underdog someone wants to take a chance on.
And at the end of the blog post, I’m gifting you bonus free training on how to land a job offer asap. Sound good? Awesome, read on.
STEP 1: Don’t believe you aren’t qualified or experienced enough. That’s nonsense. You are enough
The biggest and most common mistake my clients make is believing the myth that they don’t have enough of the skills and experience needed to get a job offer.
This is not true. People that are less experienced than more qualified candidates still get job offers.
For example, a Hewlett-Packard study showed that on average, men often apply for roles with as little as 60% of the requirements listed in the job post and still get the job.
Victoria Brescoll, M.B.A professor at Yale’s School of Management said, “Because men apply for jobs assuming they’re awesome and are thinking ‘who wouldn’t want me?’ they have no trouble justifying their worth and are thus more likely get the job.”
If you believe you don’t have enough experience, you’ll struggle to justify your worth and why someone should hire you.
This self doubt will show up your body language, in your answers, in your tone of voice … in everything.
This is a huge mistake because ultimately, the only reason you’re being interviewed is to learn more about the company and give them reasons for why they should hire you. And the only way you convince someone else that you’re competent and ready for the job, is to genuinely believe you can do it.
One of my favourite examples of this is the story of when researchers discovered that people are stronger and perform better when they believe in themselves.
A study brought together three groups of men and each group had to measure their grip strength. The difference between these groups was that Group A talked themselves into believing they were Superman. Group B didn’t believe they were Superman. And Group C didn’t think about Superman and acted as their human, normal self.
Guess which group had the strongest grip strength? Group A!
The men that talked themselves into believing they were Superman felt stronger and as a result had the tightest grip strength. The group that acted as their human, normal selves didn’t see any change in their grip strength. And the men that didn’t believe they were Superman, felt less strong and as a result had the weakest grip strength.
Your mind is super powerful and if you allow yourself to believe that you are smart enough, experienced enough and qualified enough, you’ll achieve more than what you thought was possible.
But I get it… the skeptic inside you still wants to know how you address the fact that you aren’t as experienced as the person they would ideally hire?
Well here’s the thing. Even though believing in yourself is critical, I admit, that alone won’t be enough to get the job.
Because lets be real, believing you’re superman doesn’t make you superman. It only makes you stronger.
It’s the same thing with your level of experience. Believing in yourself doesn’t make you experienced. It just makes you a stronger candidate.
So the next question is, how do you get around your lack of experience?
STEP 2: Leave your ego outside. Instead be genuine. Be yourself.
One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve seen people make is live by the motto “fake till you make it.”
The worst thing you can do for your career and reputation is to lie or oversell yourself. Deceiving others can ruin your chances of building genuine relationships with the people you want to be hired by. Not to mention, faking it will only make you feel even more like an imposter.
So here’s what you do instead. Leave your ego outside and give up the idea of how you think others should perceive you.
What many people forget is that an interview isn’t really about you. I know it’s hard to believe than when you’re sitting in the hot seat and being asked 101 questions.
But the reality is if you’ve made it to the interview phase (and you didn’t lie to get there) chances are, you have a sufficient level of experience to do the job.
The ultimate purpose of your interview is for them to meet you and see if you’re the right fit for the company and position.
That’s the key word.. the right fit. That’s all they want to know.
Your work experience is one way a hiring manager will assess whether you’re the right fit for the position. And fortunately for you, it’s not the only way. Here are three other ways you can illustrate why you’re the right fit for the role and company.
STEP 3: Get clear on WHY this is the best next job for you
A major mistake I’ve seen many clients make is not getting clear on what job they want to do next and why they want to do it.
Instead, they suffer from job-seeker-syndrome. This is how I describe people that send a ton of job applications for a ton of different roles to a ton of different companies.
This is a mistake because recruiters can see you’re desperate for anything and that you’re not specialised in anything.
It’s really easy to tell the difference between someone who really wants the job because they’re genuinely interested in it and the company, and someone who just wants a job.
And when you lack experience, a good way around this is to justify why you should be hired in spite of this.
Getting clear on your reason for wanting this particular job in this particular point in your life, can help a recruiter or hiring manager make sense of your career change.
So instead of sending lots of applications, pause for a moment and reflect on what you want to do with your life and your career. Get clear on what your purpose is and the types of companies you want to work for. Get clear on the type of job you want to do next and why you believe that is the best next step in your career.
If you get clear on all of the above, your career change will make sense. And even if you lack experience, a hiring manager may be willing to take a risk and a chance on you if they believe you are at the right place at the right time and just need a chance.
STEP 4: Don’t underestimate your work experience. Instead make the connection between what you used to do and what you’d like to do
As I mentioned earlier, the most common mistake my clients make is assume they don’t have adequate work experience. When in reality they do.
Even though your past experience may seem different and not linked to the job you want to do, it’s highly likely that you’ve developed some skills and achieved a few things that will help you to do the job well, but bring something unique to the table.
One of my favourite examples of this is a story about Malcolm.
Malcolm was a 40 something year old designer who’d been working in advertising for 25 years. He’s done creative social media work, illustrated stories for commercials and shot short films.
But then one day a good friend asked him to consider working for McKinsey, one of the worlds best management consulting firms. At first, he thought it was a joke. He couldn’t imagine working there and fitting in. In his view, he was a creative designer with tattoos and the people at McKinsey were consultants who wore suits and put together PowerPoint presentations. “Not a great fit” he thought.
Turns out, he was the kind of person McKinsey wanted. Malcolm loved telling stories to entertain people and McKinsey wanted to hire creatives like him that come from different backgrounds and can offer the best experience and service for their clients.
His story reminds me of when we were children. When we were kids, all we wanted to do was fit in and be loved. Being different meant being bullied and unappreciated. But as adults, it’s the complete opposite. What makes you different is what makes you valuable.
All you need to do is think about how your different experience is transferable and can be uniquely helpful for the role you’re applying for.
STEP 5: Get educated on the job to be done and be willing to do everything necessary to hit the ground running
Last but not least, another mistake people make when applying for a job they aren’t qualified for is accepting they aren’t qualified for and keeping their fingers crossed someone will train them.
This is crazy, because if you’re inexperienced, the number one thing you need to do right now is to get educated.
And by get educated I don’t mean you have to wait to complete a year or two year long course to make the career change. Sometimes it’s necessary if you want to work in certain fields like medicine or psychology or something like that.
But more often than not, you don’t need a degree to change careers. Instead what you need to do is become extremely well read on the topic and role you’re interested in.
The reality is, when you go to university, a lot of the materials you’ll use to study come from lectures and books. And the content delivered in those lectures and books can often be found on the Amazon bookstore.
One thing you can’t do is hide from the fact that employers want someone who can hit the ground running. And the only way you can show that is to illustrate that you have an advanced level of understanding of the job description and you know what to do (even if you haven’t done it before.)
An easy way to think about it is this… someone who knows the instructions for baking a cake is far more handy in the kitchen than someone who’s never baked a cake and doesn’t even know how to start.
Learning what you need to do in the role will play a critical role in whether you’ll get the job or not.
To show you how this plays out in reality, I’ll tell you a story of one of my clients, Charlotte.
Charlotte was a 20 something year old living in London who wanted to change careers, move into tech and work as a product manager. Before she applied for jobs, she got educated on all things product management. Charlotte shortlisted the top 5 books she needed to read.
After learning as much as she could from those books, she felt confident she knew everything she needed to know to write a compelling CV and cover letter. More importantly she knew how to answer interview questions.
She understood the reasoning behind the key skills and experience recruiters were looking for. And she used this knowledge to figure out what to say when people asked her to talk about her experience.
She got clear on why she wanted to be a product manager and why it was the right next step in her career. And she was able to identify and show how her previous work experience was relevant and transferable.
All this reading ended up paying off and she was given a job offer to work as a Senior Product Manager. She totally skipped working as a junior or mid level product manager and this wouldn’t have been possible if she knew little about product management.
And that’s it. These, my friend, are the 5 steps you need to take to get a job offer when you don’t have enough work experience.
What’s one thing you’re going to do differently after reading this post? Leave a comment below.