Whether you’re wanting to switch industries or move up the ladder, you might not have the years of experience requested in the job description. But instead of waiting years for that experience to someday come, learn how top performers land remote jobs without experience and beat out other candidates that have it.
Reprogram Your Brain
First, understand that you are programmed from childhood to think putting in the time will get you what you want. For 16+ years of your developmental life, you progress through school one grade at a time. By the end, you’ve been programmed to think you will graduate to the next grade by just putting in the time, even if you’re not an A student.
Then you graduate and the real world smacks you in the face, hard. You learn that just doing your job and putting in the years isn’t how your career advances. You hear stories about others getting jobs with less experience than you or because they were better connected. Maybe that’s even happened to you? People that are stuck with their programming scoff and blame others for their failures. While top performers think, “If someone else can do it, I can do it too”.
Therefore, if you want a remote job and lack experience, first reprogram your brain. Deep down, employers could care less how many years of experience their ideal candidate has. Just like a gifted child can skip grades in school, the ambitious can get remote jobs without experience by learning how the real job world works.
Learn How The Real Job World Works
Compared to years of experience, there are three factors that matter more when getting a remote job: your accomplishments, your network, and your interview skills.
Don’t believe me? You be the boss. Who would you rather hire for these three positions?
Who would you rather hire for a VP of Engineering position?
- John with 30 years of experience as an Engineering Manager and Director.
- Mark Zuckerberg with 10 years of experience but has already built a billion-dollar business.
Which babysitter would you rather hire to watch your kids?
- Jane who you just met with 20 years of childcare experience and with great referrals.
- Your older niece with 1 years of experience who grew up in a home with 5 younger siblings.
Who would you rather hire for a Finance Manager position?
- Peter with 10 years of experience who rambles through all his interview questions and says, “Just hire me and you won’t be wrong!”
- Brian with 5 years of experience who articulately answers each interview question and proves how he can add value and solve the business problems the role entails.
These extreme examples are black and white to make it clear that the real job world values your accomplishments, your network, and your interview skills over your years of experience. Improve in any of these three areas and you can increase your chances of beating out other candidates with more experience than you.
But before you hit the ground running you first need to be honest with yourself. Are you qualified for the position?
Being qualified means that you are confident that you already have the necessary knowledge, skills, and (sometimes) certifications required to do the job if it were handed to you today.
Being qualified is a prerequisite for any job, but especially one where you have less than the desired years of experience. As you interview, the hiring manager is going to put an even greater emphasis on determining if you know the ins and outs of the position and the industry your job is in.
Use these questions to help you determine if you are qualified for the position:
Job Title Qualifications
- Do I know the problems this position needs to solve and how I would solve them?
- Do I know what the day-to-day responsibilities are in this position?
- Do I have the Education and/or certifications required for the position (i.e. Bachelor’s Degree, CPA certification for a CPA position, etc.)?
- Do I know the vocabulary and terminology inherent in the position in order to speak intelligently about it in an interview?
- Do I know the ins and outs of the business and market my company is in?
- Do I know the company’s biggest competitors and how the company is positioned against them?
- Do I know how well the company’s market has been performing over the last 5 years and what the future market trends are forecasting?
- Do I know the industry specific vocabulary and terminology needed to speak intelligently about the industry in an interview?
If you’re weak in any of those areas then you have the ability to start learning today by watching YouTube videos, reading books, taking courses, etc. There are so many ways you can instantly become more qualified for any position just by actively seeking out the knowledge you lack.
But the best way to qualify yourself is by simply talking to people with the same job title in the same industry. Talking to people is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to learn about a position, but is something people rarely do. Therefore, consider talking to people as your secret weapon to becoming more qualified for the position quickly.
Your Secret Weapon: Talking to People
Reach out to 50 people on LinkedIn with the same Job Title and Industry you are trying to get into. 50 might sound like a lot, but expect that only 1 out of 10 people will actually connect with you. Professionals like you are busy people and will be more hesitant to connect if they don’t already know you. In LinkedIn, after you click “Connect”, click the button that says “Add a note”. Then use this word-for-word script to increase your chances of them accepting your connection request.
Hi FIRST NAME,
I saw you’ve been a JOB TITLE for X years now. I’m really interested in becoming one too, so I’m first learning by talking to professionals like you. You clearly have a lot more experience than me and know how to be successful. I’d love to learn how. Lets connect!
Since you only have 300 characters available, this script is clear and to the point that you aren’t asking for a job. You are simply eager to learn from this person. Most people are more than happy to give advice to others less experienced than them when they feel it’s coming from an honest desire to learn.
Once you’re connected, thank them and try to set up a quick Skype call. Be friendly and grateful they’re taking time out of their busy lives to talk to you. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a 2:1 question/response ratio, meaning ask two questions and then give your insight or perspective. For example, “That’s really interesting because…” or “That’s similar to what I learned from talking to someone else, except they said…”. Ask prepared and intelligent questions. Make sure you maintain a natural rhythm in the conversation and listen more than talk.
Talking to enough people can give you insights into the position that would take others years of experience to learn. Your research can greatly improve your knowledge of the position and the industry, which will help you craft a resume that gets interviews, and will help you ace your interviews to get the job.
How to Get Interviews Without Experience On Your Resume
You’ve reprogrammed your brain and you feel confident that you are qualified for the position. Your next challenge is getting an interview without the required experience on your resume.
First, know that years of experience is just an estimation of a candidates expected ability. Everyone that gets an interview has an equal opportunity to sell themselves and prove that they are the best person for the job. But before you can let your interview skills shine, you need to get in the door.
Increase your odds of getting interviews by improving your resume and by leveraging your network.
A Better Resume
Submitting your resume through the front door means it will likely be filtered by an Application Tracking System (ATS). Prepare your resume for the ATS filter and the recruiter’s initial skim in the following 3 ways:
Add a Resume Profile
Research has proven that the upper third of the first page of your resume is the most looked at portion. Also, resumes are first skimmed before they are read in more detail.
Adding a resume profile section to the top center of your resume is a strategic way to stand out among the hundreds of other resumes that may list more experience than yours. A resume profile is a concise statement (1-4 short sentences) explaining the value and benefits you will bring to the employer. It’s not a career objective statement because it focuses on the employer, not you.
The goal of a resume profile is to summarize your value and entice the reader to want to read more. Therefore, only include skills and qualifications that relate to the specific job for which you are applying.
Strategic Skill and Key-Word Placement
In order to get past the ATS and into the recruiter’s hands, you need to ensure your resume is rich in key words specific to the job description. But beyond the generic “tailor your resume” advice, be strategic about placing the most relevant skills and key-words in the upper-third portion of your resume that communicate your qualifications.
The recruiter will initially be skimming for years of experience among other things. Therefore, you want to ensure a strong resume profile statement is front and center and that it contains the most important words to communicate you’re qualified.
Ask yourself what are the top three skills, achievements or value-adds you need them to know immediately to prove you can do the job and benefit the company. Try to incorporate these things into your resume profile.
Quantify Your Achievements
Nothing makes your resume more attractive to employers than quantifying your achievements with numbers and percentages. In a sea of words, numbers stand out to the reader when they are skimming your resume. They make your achievements much more concrete and memorable.
First, revisit your accomplishments and think deeply if there are any metrics you can pull out. Estimating is acceptable as long as you’re honest, but try to not round numbers up or down because real numbers are more believable. For example, which statements are more believable?
- Increased sales 90% vs. Increased sales 87.3%.
- Managed a budget of $1,000,000 vs. Managed a budget of $1,134,872
The more exact you make the metric, the more believable it is.
Second, put your best quantifiable achievements into your resume profile. Don’t worry if they are duplicated in your Experience section. Remember, the goal of your resume profile is to instill curiosity during the employer’s initial skim and make them want to read your resume more thoroughly.
Leverage Your Network
Even with the best resume, you’re more likely to get filtered out by the ATS by submitting your resume through the front door. If you lack experience, you will have more success networking your way in, especially for remote positions where a higher degree of trust is needed between manager and employee compared to desk jobs. When it comes to getting a job, a higher degree of trust in your ability to succeed equates to a lower degree of risk that you will be a mis-hire.
Being connected to the hiring manager either directly or through a mutual connection can help those estimating your competencies to be less objectively focused. That’s why you would hire your niece to babysit your kids instead of a more experienced adult you just met.
Remember this, what someone else says about you can be infinitely more powerful than what you can say about yourself. This is especially true when that someone has built a positive relationship with the hiring manager.
Start leveraging your network by using LinkedIn to search for 1st and 2nd degree connections to the company you want to apply to. Reach out to those employees and learn more about them and the company before asking for an introduction or referral to the hiring manager.
If you’ve already built those relationships while qualifying yourself, now you can leverage them. Express that you’ve determined the company is a good fit and that you want to pursue an opportunity that’s recently become available. Since those relationships were started from a position of learning and not for the sole purpose of getting a job, they are more likely to convert to a referral or a warm introduction to the hiring manager.
If you’re struggling with getting interviews, then optimizing your resume and leveraging your network are two strategies you should exercise in parallel to fast-track success.
How to Ace Your Interview Without Experience
You’ve jumped over the large hurdle of getting an interview without the required years of experience on your resume. Now you’re faced with an even greater challenge, acing your interviews without experience. One thing is certain, you’ve sparked their desire to learn more about your qualifications. You now have a green light to leverage all the tools in your toolbox to outshine your opponents and prove that you’re the best fit for the position. Here are three ways to sharpen your interview skills and sell them the candidate they’ve been looking for, regardless of your years of experience.
Connect the Dots
You don’t need to have years of experience to solve the problems the remote job entails, you just need to convince the hiring manager that you can. How you do this is by connecting the dots between your qualifications and the responsibilities/problems inherent in the position. You need to talk about the benefits that you will bring to the organization and support those claims with past accomplishments and examples.
In your interview you may be asked situational questions like, “Tell me about a time when you…(insert situation)”. Many people can get stuck and flustered when they don’t have past experiences with the exact situation being asked. Although, you can turn this question around by instead telling them WHAT you would do in that situation or HOW you would solve that problem. Here is an example question and a word-for-word answer to help:
“Tell me about any Sales experience you have had in the Financial Market.”
The Financial Market is interesting because <KNOWLEDGE 1> and < KNOWLEDGE 2>. I’ve been talking to successful sales executives in the Financial Market and what I’ve learned is that <SOLUTION TO COMMON PROBLEM>. I have a lot of experience in the Oil and Gas market where in my first year at my previous company, I was able to close $10 million in revenue by <RELATE TO SAME SOLUTION TO COMMON PROBLEM>. I’m confident that I can achieve the same revenue targets at COMPANY NAME. In fact, I think I can do better.
This response starts off by directly addressing the hidden question being asked, “Will you be successful in this role without having enough job experience?” by immediately demonstrating your knowledge of the job, the industry, and even how you would solve a common problem that job or industry has. You should expand this response with job-specific and industry-specific terminology to increase their perception of your competence. The answer to the questions is in-directly answered in the middle of the response by stating what you do have, instead of what you don’t have. Then a quick transition is made to a past achievement and projecting that success in the new role.
Connect the dots by arming yourself with planned responses like these that can deflect any objection they may have about your experience back towards your achievements, skills and projected benefits.
Prepare Better Than Everyone Else
Acing your interview isn’t just about reiterating your years of experience and skills asked for in the job description. Even the most experienced candidates must sell themselves better than those with less experience. How to guarantee success in your interviews is by planning for common questions, preparing your responses and practicing delivery.
Imagine getting a test and already knowing what questions were going to be on it weeks in advance. Fortunately, a few interview questions are likely to be asked in almost every interview. If you’re coming in without the years of experience being requested, preparing for them can give you an advantage over more experienced candidates if you’re able to concisely articulate your answers.
Open-ended questions will require you to demonstrate your communication skills and your level of preparation. Instead of telling them your life story, you need to communicate what you’re capable of and what makes you valuable.
Common Open-Ended Questions to Prepare For:
- Tell me about yourself?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want to work here?
Experience/skill questions are asked to subjectively evaluate the experiences in your background. Without having the desired years of experience the job posting has asked for, your answers need to communicate that you know the ins and outs of the job, how to solve their problems, and what benefits you will bring to the position. Therefore, connect the dots between what you’ve accomplished in the past to what you will do for the company. But if you’re lacking the former, quickly transition and focus more time explaining the latter.
Common Experience/Skill Questions to Prepare For:
- What applicable skills and experience do you have?
- What were your responsibilities in that position?
- You say in your resume that you _____. Tell me more about that.
Behavioral questions will require you to share examples of specific situations you’ve been in where you had to use certain skills. Prepare by thinking of the top three behaviors or skills required for the position you’re applying to. Then think of specific examples from your experiences that demonstrate them.
If you’re applying to a remote position, then also prepare to answer behavioral questions based on Communication, Teamwork, and being a Self-Starter. These skills are highly desired and required of remote workers.
Common Behavioral Questions to Prepare For:
- Tell me about a time when you handled a challenging situation.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you handled it.
- Tell me about a time when there was a miscommunication with a coworker and how you resolved it.
Remove Weak Language
An interview isn’t just about having the technical skills for the position, it’s equally or even more about showcasing your eagerness, confidence and appearing competent visually and vocally. You need to demonstrate a positive demeanor with what you say and how you say it.
Start by removing weak words from your vocabulary to immediately sound more confident. Start with removing hedges, such as:
- In my opinion..
- The way I see it..
- I may be wrong .. but..
- I would like to..
- I just..
- I think..
- I believe..
- I feel..
Hedges make you sound like you’re doubting your own words and lengthen your sentences unnecessarily. Here’s an example of a hedge used in a sentence:
Bad: “I may be wrong, but, I think I’m the best person for this job.”
Who would hire someone who openly doubts they are the best person for job? If you say that in an interview then you should just walk out right then and there and save yourself some time. Instead, cut hedges down to a minimum. Ask yourself: Does the hedge add any information? If not, leave it out.
Better: “I’m the best person for this job”
You can also replace weak words like “I think”, “I believe”, and “I feel”, for stronger options such as “I’m confident”, “I’m convinced”, “I expect”.
Best: “I’m confident that I’m the best person for this job”
Here’s another example of strengthening weak language:
Weak: “I just want you to know that I have 8 years of experience in IT. I feel that I have what it takes to succeed in this position.”
Here’s the same sentence without hedges, which removes the weakness in the words and will make you sound more confident:
Strong: “I have 8 years of experience in IT. I’m confident I have what it takes to succeed in this position.”
Making simple improvements in what you say and how you say it can instantly transform their perception of you from weak to competent and confident. Work on removing weak language in order to sounding confident in everything you say, which is critical when you don’t have as much practical experience as your competition.
By connecting the dots, preparing better than everyone else and removing weak language from your vocabulary, you will skyrocket your chances of acing your remote job interviews and getting the job offer.
There are several steps involved with landing a remote job without experience. It starts with reprogramming your brain and qualifying yourself, then leveraging every advantage possible to get the interview and showcase your value and competence. Use the tools and techniques you’ve learned here to help you every step of the way. If other top-performers can land remote jobs without experience, you can too. Keep learning from your failures and making improvements to guarantee success.
Your Turn: What’s the hardest part about getting a remote job without experience? Is it finding the job? Getting the interview? Passing the interview? Something else?