Finding a career that seems like a perfect fit is already challenging enough. But what’s worse? Reading through a job description that’s checking every box on your career wish list and then, there it is, that dreaded line: “X years of experience required."
You really want this job, but you don't meet the experience qualifications that the employer is seeking. You’re probably wondering, “Should I apply for the job without the required experience anyways and hope for the best?”
We asked Lori Cole, iHire Career Advisor, who started by saying that she gets this question from job seekers all the time. “Absolutely, you should still apply,” Cole answered.
“Applying for a job without the required experience will call for going the extra mile on your resume and cover letter, but you have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there,” she added. “In the end, most hiring managers are more inclined to offer the job to the candidate who is a better fit for the company versus someone who simply matches the experience criteria.”
While you may not possess the professional or even educational background the employer is looking for, you have likely gained other skills (either in past jobs or volunteer work) that can be applied to the career you want – known as transferable skills. These include basic skills like communication and organization, people skills such as conflict resolution, clerical skills, management skills, and more. If you’re applying for a job without the required experience, you must identify these transferrable skills and note them in your resume.
For example, say you’re applying for an IT position, having never worked in the field. On your resume, you could mention the software courses you’ve completed. You could talk about how you like to spend time building computers and helping friends and family troubleshoot and solve technical issues in your cover letter. These skills and attributes matter – and sometimes matter more – to employers!
Like applying to any other role, you’ll want to polish up your cover letter before submitting it. Your cover letter will be your first impression and your chance to stand out amongst candidates who do meet all the qualifications that the employer has listed.
In your cover letter, be sure to mention some of the transferrable skills that you added to your resume, but rephrase them to avoid copying anything word-for-word. Think about any other attributes you have to offer that could apply to the role. Look for keywords in the job posting so you can connect those exact words in your cover letter
The moral is: Don’t keep settling for roles you’re overqualified for just because they are jobs that require no experience. Career Advisor, Lori Cole, is always reassuring job seekers that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“Even if the interview doesn’t work out, you can ask employers to keep you in their pipeline for future job openings that will suit you even better.” Well said, Lori!