Two types of job seekers find themselves in the dilemma of applying for work they don’t have relevant experience for:
- Fresh graduate / entry level job applicants,
- Mid-career professionals attempting a career change.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to respond in situations where they don’t have relevant work experience, resulting in missed job opportunities.
Handling this situation correctly is necessary if you want to succeed at the interview.
First of all, note that job titles are irrelevant. It’s the actual work done that’s important to the employer.
Don’t worry if you haven’t held the exact job position you are applying for. It’s the work and skills that count.
If you’ve handled similar work but under a different job title, focus on the work you’ve actually done and talk about it in the interview. Don’t assume that just because you haven’t held a job with the same job title, you don’t have experience with the work.
If you’ve had experience with any of the work duties or skills required in the job, mention them clearly and articulately, whether the experience was formal or informal and paid or volunteer.
Examples are sales, customer service, managing a team, writing code, and so on.
You may have assisted in managing an event at your college. This is important information for the job application.
Or you may have held an unrelated job that had similar duties as the job you want to apply for.
For example, you might have held a job at a restaurant serving burgers that required selling skills, customer service, up selling, and patience, as well as communication and teamwork.
You might have been a secretary at your college student union or newsletter that required you to communicate with customers via phone or email, keep records, and so on.
So the next time you are applying for a job you have no “relevant” work experience for, take inventory of the skills and responsibilities required to do on the job. Then note down which ones you had experience with and where.
On your interview, talk about the work you’ve done and the skills you acquired as well as any achievements you’ve had.
Keep a list of references as supporting evidence to show when needed.
Using this method, you’ll be able to nail any interview, whether it’s a phone / zoom interview or in-person interview.
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