It stands to reason that employers prefer people who are self-starters. People who are motivated to self-train prove that they have the initiative to get things moving. It’s a unique gifting that stands apart. If you are one of those people, you have much to be confident about. It’s not just about qualifications or experience alone but the drive of a person which others must notice. Employers decide on whether a candidate can learn up the job in the shortest time, i.e. “Hit the ground running”, but they also might understand this one thing; that there’s no one candidate that meets ALL the requirements of the job. They have to choose the closest one.
In order to land a job outside of your qualification, you need to show the above qualities whether by action or by recommendation. Here are some ideas:
1. Get a recommendation letter or testimonial
These are the black and white that will tell the employer what kind of person you are from another employer’s perspective. It could also be from the perspective of a lecturer, teacher or the leader of a soup kitchen you volunteered for. We say, cultivating strategic and selective relationships are important when it comes to working and only you can do that. We say selective because we realise that you’ll meet some difficult people along the way too; so navigate yourself carefully.
One might ask, “What if I’m a fresh graduate with no work experience? How can I get a recommendation letter?” Well, a graduate can get a testimonial from their lecturer which acts as a recommendation letter. A point of view from the lecturer, especially when projects were given, they were executed well and within time. Perhaps you were the team leader who managed to get everyone together and displayed a disciplined work ethic and did work with the initiative without being supervised too much. Your performance was good in your college days.
Since you displayed such a good work ethic and had good professional relationships with your lecturers, you could ask them to write a testimonial for you. You could even discuss certain key points about yourself as well as your academic milestones to be included in the letter. Remember, you must ask. This isn’t something that they will just give. You could request it personally, or by email and follow up.
2. Show examples of ability from your previous jobs
You can show examples of your ability to learn and take up new responsibilities or challenges in any of your previous jobs. Show them how you were able to solve problems as a result. Display your talent how you’ve been a resourceful troubleshooter in the past. For example, let me share a true story of a young man I know personally who came from a struggling family. For anonymity purposes, let’s call him Kit.
Kit is in his early twenties and is very driven when it comes to work. He graduated in culinary arts and worked as an intern cook in a few small restaurants. The salary however was not great and the experience was troublesome. He was swamped with work and would return home very late into the night. The type of problems, challenges and workload that he had to put up with was due to the management’s exploitation but Kit knew that early on. He knew what this profession was like but he soldiered on. In less than a year, he secured a better position in a resort. In late 2021, he is on a cruise ship sailing the American East Coast.
The people who hired him found that he acquired more skills, experience and ability to handle problematic situations much easier. The early years had taught him how to survive. His skills had become a type of survival skill, enabling him to climb higher in a short time. This is just one example. Young people are thrown into areas of responsibility at an early age when they enter the workforce. Some, like Kit, are able to stay and soldier on. Others give up too quickly and easily as the learning curve becomes hard.
3. Look for the right employer
Perhaps you’ve met employers who are quite hung up on every single job criteria. They don’t see that some people are quite capable of learning up a new job function and even excelling in it though they lack the paper qualifications or enough experience. This is perhaps where you can narrow down your choice and go for as many interviews as you can. Be aware that not all jobs are suitable, notably, the specialised ones.
4. Talk / communication skills
Sounds weird, but talk when you need to and listen when you should. A job interview is a conversation and not just a Q&A. Perhaps you could talk and build rapport. Show them you’re like-minded and can bring value based on your experience and ability. That you can fit into their work culture.
We’re sure many candidates have been turned down for a job just because they don’t have the experience or qualification. To overcome this obstacle, here’s what you can do. Practice with a friend on how you could converse more fluently and strategically with the subject matter in mind. The subject matter, in this case, is the job description itself. Mark them down one by one and make the best responses possible.
Have you acquired any skills that are related to the job? List them down. A trusted colleague at work who is senior to you can help you identify your relatable skill sets, how you can apply them and how you can word them out in a resume. The lecturer who gave you that testimonial can also help you see strengths about yourself which you couldn’t see on your own.
Do some research online on the best ways to respond as well as asking the right questions. Write them down and conduct a mock interview with a friend or a trusted colleague. Practice speaking and asking. You can also mark down the job descriptions where you lack the experience or know-how. For this, you can say, “I’m well aware that I don’t have the experience in these areas, but I will commit myself to learn them up in the shortest time”. Why do companies have probation time anyway?
Of all the points above, communication skills are the number one reason why an interview is successful or not. It’s the sales pitch. It’s a show and tell. Practising this will give you the confidence to go in there and make your case.
5. What you shouldn’t do
Don’t go to an interview repeating these words “I don’t have the experience”. Your face and the way you talk will show your confidence level. Also, don’t go in there like going to answer questions. Go in confidently and be prepared to ask some questions of your own especially about the company and its direction.
6. Be prepared to fail
Sometimes you just don’t get the job. The reason for this is there are so many people now who are qualified and fit the job description better than you do. Though this may be the case, even qualified people fail the interview because they weren’t able to articulate themselves in the way that the employer expected for the job.
So don’t be discouraged and live to fight another day. Better days are coming if you keep on fighting!