We’ve all heard tales from those lucky few. You know, the jammy so-and-sos who talk with a nonchalant air about how they managed to land an awesome job despite lacking the experience - a seemingly impossible feat in today’s vicious job market.
There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing an ad for a job that you know you could excel at, only to be hit by the reality that you don’t possess the required skills - particularly if you’re considering changing professions. And while 40% of Brits admit to lying on their CV, we’re not advocating the blatantly dishonest approach. But fear not friends, though nothing’s ever guaranteed there are ways that you can increase your chances of bagging that job, even if your experience doesn’t quite match up.
Phase 1: Steely self-belief
The first step is easy - you’ve simply got to believe you can do it. If you’re genuinely excited about the job you’re going for or an avid supporter of the organisation, you need to put all of your energy into building that inner confidence. “If you’re going to blag your way into a job, you need to be convinced before you can convince other people,” says interview coach Claire Jenkins. “You need to be sure that you’re going to be brilliant at this job. Once you’ve got that, you’ll be able to sell that to somebody else.”
Phase 2: Crafting a standout application
First impressions mean everything when job searching and you literally only have one chance to grab the hiring manager's attention. That means those lacking in experience need to work even harder to get their name on the interview shortlist.
John Lees, one of the UK's best-known career strategists and author of KnockoutInterview, explains: “At the application stage the most important thing is that you make your skills apparent because you can’t really talk much about your knowledge of the organisation or your enthusiasm. Work out what skills are going to be useful in the job and talk about examples of where you’ve used them in the past, and I really do mean examples. So not just saying ‘I’m good at communication’ or ‘I’m good at organising’. And work backwards from what you believe to be the wish list. Think about who’d be a great person to do the job and what they’re really looking for, then try and hit as many of those points as you can, which is actually easier to do in some ways than talking about minimal experience or qualifications.”
Showcasing creativity and innovation can also earn you some points to make up for areas that you’re coming up short in, says Sagina Shabaya, Founder & Career Coach at 60Min CareerCoach. “Most applications will be online and they’ll be in the bog-standard ‘submit your CV’ or ‘answer questions’ format. But if there are different ways you can stand out, why not? I had a client that was dyslexic and couldn’t fill out an application so they submitted their interview as a short form film because they’re great with visual and verbal things but when they write things down it doesn't come out so well. Their film was impactful and stood out for its difference in approach and they landed the job.”
Phase 3: Nailing the interview
Congratulations! You’ve put in the hard work and made it to the highly-anticipated yet dreaded interview. Time to turn on the charm and express your genuine enthusiasm. It goes without saying that research is key - not only should you have memorised every detail of the job spec, but you should also know the company inside out and be able to recite your detailed competency examples without hesitation. Your lack of experience means you’re starting behind the other candidates so you have to go the extra mile to impress.
“You need to minimise any distractions. By that I mean avoid pointing to the things that you can’t do,” says Claire. “Once you’ve got down to the really core skills then you need to think about where you connect to them. So what are the connections, the transferable skills, the links, bridges and halfway houses to those skills that you can connect to?
“On top of that you need to think of examples when you’ve been a quick learner because you’ve got to demonstrate that you’re going to be able to learn about a new sector or a new organisation. If you can demonstrate this, everything else becomes a self-fulfilling thing. And then the icing on the cake really is to work out what is unique and memorable about you that nobody else will be able to talk about at interview. And it might be the fact that you bring a completely different perspective to that job because you’re coming from a different angle.”
We’re not saying it’s going to be easy but fighting for the right job is always worth the effort. So prepare to sell yourself like never before. It’s your turn to execute the gift of the blag.