Sam Holstein

You Don’t Need Relevant Experience to Get Your Dream Job

You Don’t Need Relevant Experience to Get Your Dream Job

We’ve all heard someone at the beginning of their career complain about how hard it is to get relevant experience. “You need experience to get a better job, but to get experience, someone needs to hire you in a better job! It’s a trap!”

This familiar cliche, though, is pretty far from the truth. You don’t need someone to hire you to give you relevant experience. You can create relevant experience for yourself right in the comfort of home (which is good, because it’s not like we’re going anywhere else).

By adopting the strategies side hustlers use to break into new markets, you can break into the career market for the job of your dreams.

We All Have Experience With Something

If you think you’re starting from zero, that you have no relevant experience in any field, think again. You haven’t spent your life doing nothing (even if it feels that way sometimes). We all have experience with something.

No matter who you are, you have a number of skills you’ve developed over the course of your lifetime.

If you’re drawing a blank, or think you’re not “good enough” to put it on your resume, ask yourself what your friends would say you’re good at. If you are good enough for your friends, you are good enough for an entry-level position.

You Can Get Experience Right at Home

Even if you’re convinced you have no monetizable experience of any kind, or if your experience isn’t relevant to the job you want, you can still get some fairly easily.

Consider writing. If you want writing experience, all you have to do is start writing for Medium. Once you’ve published a few articles with Medium, you can list your Medium profile on your resume and your LinkedIn. Tada! You now have experience. No one had to hire you; all you had to do was do it.

Coding is another great example. You don’t need a degree or a certification to be a software engineer. All you need to do is code something. Teach yourself using YouTube, build something, and throw it on GitHub. List your GitHub on your resume and your LinkedIn. You now have experience as a software engineer.

You may think that only works for some jobs. It’s easy to teach yourself how to code or write. You can do that all online. But what about chemistry? How can you get chemistry experience?

That too is doable. If I had to help someone gain experience as a chemist so they could land a chemistry internship, here’s what I would advise they do:

  1. Start reading a lot of chemistry books
  2. Review those chemistry books on a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel
  3. Write/record introductory guides to chemistry
  4. Write/record articles/videos about modern chemistry for a lay audience
  5. Use this content to create a chemistry-oriented resume
  6. Use this resume and cover letter to apply for chemistry internships

Boom! Now someone with no experience is getting their first chemistry internship.

Why This Works

Getting experience this way works because, at the end of the day, employers only care about whether or not you can do the job. If you make them think you can do the job the best, you get the job.

Notice the phrasing. If you make them think you’ll do the job the best. You don’t have to be the best candidate. You just have to be the candidate that sells themselves the best.

You may think that’s not true. After all, job listings say employers require bachelor’s degrees, 3+ years of experience, certifications, so on and so forth. Why would they include these things if they didn’t care about them?

I’ll tell you what my grandfather told my mother, and what my mother told me: Job requirements are a wishlist.

Consider dating. When single people are looking for a partner, many make a “wishlist” of qualities they want in a partner. A wishlist. They wish for a partner that is tall, or short, or blonde, or brunette, or funny and outgoing, or intelligent, or… so on and so forth.

But how often do we actually end up with someone who fulfills every single wishlist item? Never. If we do it right, we end up with someone who doesn’t fulfill every wish, but who makes us see that half the things we wished for were stupid in the first place.

Hiring managers do the same thing. When hiring managers sit down and make a wish list for the kind of employee they want to have, they make a wishlist: an employee who went to a top-tier school, who has years of experience, who comes to work every day in a suit, who is never late, who doesn’t have a personal life who would ever keep them from coming in to work, and whose moral code is strong enough that they would never lie to the company, but not strong enough that they worry too much about the “meaning” of what they’re doing. They turn this wishlist into the job posting you see on Indeed.

Just as we never end up with someone who fulfills every dating wish, employers never end up with the perfect employee. They may end up hiring someone who doesn’t have a solid grasp of English, and they have to spend the entire engagement struggling to communicate. They may hire someone who has two newborns at home who keep her from working around the clock. And they may hire someone who doesn’t have the degree or all the years of experience that they would like. In other words, they may hire you.

Hiring managers understand all this. As a result, all you really have to do to get a job is prove you can do what you say you can do. You can do this by going to college, or by getting alternative education, or by starting a side hustle. As long as you prove you can get the job done, hiring managers won’t care. At the end of the day, they hire the best person for the job.

So stop waiting for someone to hire you to give you experience. Go get the tools you need and create some experience for yourself.