Getting a job without experience

September 15, 2022


Whether you are a first-time job seeker or a career switcher hoping to pivot to a new field, the job search can be equal measures exciting and nerve-racking. A new career is in sight, but how do you get it, especially when you lack relevant experience or have no experience at all?

If you’ve been asking yourself this question, then this post is for you.

A lack of experience doesn’t mean you can’t land a job. It just means you have to go about the job search strategically. The following tips have been crafted to help you do just that.

The biggest risk for companies hiring a candidate 😟

Let’s start off by talking about the biggest risk factor for most companies when it comes to hiring a candidate - and that’s hiring someone who doesn’t actually know how to code/design/analyze/build.

A software developer who doesn’t know how to code—or is really bad at it— actually adds negative value and can cost the company even more money than merely paying their salary would entail.

In such a case, it’s better to never hire this person at all.

We are all aware that India is facing an acute shortage of skilled workforce. Graduates right out of college do not possess on-the-job skills, which makes the recruiters apprehensive about hiring them. Any company that you would want to work for is going to guard as much as possible against hiring developers who don’t know how to write code.

This is one of the reasons why—even though so many software developers complain about it—so many companies do whiteboard coding interviews. (It’s really difficult to cheat in them)

Overcoming that risk 💪

If you have no experience, your primary strategy for getting a job as a software developer/designer/analyst is to prove that you are competent - that you can code/design/analyze/build.

What we really want to do here is make it pretty clear to any company considering you for a position that, even though you don’t have direct work experience, you are an experienced programmer/designer/analyst, and you have some external proof that you know how to code/design/analyze.

That is what is going to help you get your foot in the door.

1. Have an online presence 👀

Most of us have an online presence on some level or another, but have you ever thought about how the content you choose to post online could affect your career?

It can be really useful to start a professional blog where you have a bunch of articles about the specific software development technologies you are specializing in, and it looks like you keep it up-to-date.

It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced developer or if you are just starting out. You should share what you are learning and write about your chosen specialty in the software development field.

Aside from a blog, it also helps to have other good things come up when your name is Googled.

A Twitter account, perhaps a Facebook page, or something else that shows you are active and involved in the software development community is going to go a long way in helping you establish credibility, despite lacking experience.

2. Have a Portfolio 🖌️

Having an online presence is great, but without experience, you are probably going to want to have a bit more substance as well.

It’s a really good idea to have a portfolio of some of the work you’ve done that shows you know how to code and provides an example of your code.

This is going to go a long way to alleviate that risk a potential employer would have in hiring someone who lacks experience.

If a potential employer can see code that you’ve written and projects you’ve created, they can be more sure that you at least have some idea of what you are doing and can probably write code for them.

Now, there isn’t any way to prove that you wrote the code yourself or that it is even your code, but if you have a decent portfolio of projects you created, it’s more and more believable.

You can build your portfolio using these platforms:

Software - Github

Website - Host your website (ideal), Github, Notion

Design - Behance, Dribbble

Analytics - Kaggle, Rpubs

You can even explain, talk about your projects on YouTube or on our own Website.

3. Offer to work for no charge 🔨

One really good way to eliminate risk for a company that is considering hiring you when you don’t have any experience is to basically offer to work for free or—even better—offer a money-back guarantee on your work.

You are probably not going to take this approach when you go through the normal resume / interview process, but if you are working through your network or reaching out directly through an informal interview process, you might really want to consider this tactic.

You do have to have a lot of confidence to pull this off, though. You have to project the idea that you are so sure that you can succeed that it is well worth taking a chance on you and that you are even willing to work for free or with a money-back guarantee to prove it.

If you pull this off confidently enough, you may even get hired without having to work for free or offer a guarantee. Just making this kind of offer can give a prospective employer enough confidence in your abilities that they are willing to take a chance on you and hire you straight up.

4. But remember - “No charge” doesn’t mean “Free” ⚠️

This is an add-on to my previous point - when I say work for “no charge”, I’m not recommending that you let companies exploit you. No.

If you are starting out, especially in fields like graphic design, or photography, you may do a lot of work for “no charge,” but that does not mean it is “free.” You give away your time and energy at “no charge” in hopeful expectation of some reward from your clients, such as an improved relationship, future favors, referrals, and additional projects, to name just a few.

In order to make sure your client is aware of your generous gifts of time, you must document all of the work you complete for the client whether you charge them for it or not. This strategy can be accomplished easily in your proposals and invoices.

5. Get Certifications 📚

This is quite subjective, but I do think they become much more valuable when you lack real job experience. In the post-COVID-19 world, employers recognize the value of online courses and certifications.

Getting certifications won’t prove that you are an expert, and it won’t guarantee you a job, but it is another way to alleviate some of the uncertainty a prospective employer may have with hiring someone who lacks experience.

6. Be persistent 🏋️‍♂️

When you don’t have experience, you should make up for it with persistence.

Be the kind of go-getter who doesn’t take “no” for an answer and people will be likely to eventually give you a shot—experience or not.

Many people are afraid of following up for fear that they’ll blow their chances or be annoying. Be annoying. It’s better than being forgotten.

Besides, if you are persistent enough and you do it in a way that is as least annoying as possible, you’ll come across as someone who is eager and hungry.