You miss all the shots you don’t take, especially when you think you lack relevant job experience. This is because you just don’t know what to say when you don’t have experience for a job.
Many job seekers, especially those who are young, end up missing out on opportunities because they don’t apply to positions they don’t have the experience for. But just because you don’t have the specific experience for a job, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a good candidate.
In the working world, especially in corporate jobs, recruiters expect to encounter people who don’t have the experience they’re looking for. But, based on the skills outlined in their resume, along with other job experience, they advance to interview.
When you don’t have the specified experience for a job, use your other strengths along with your personality to convince them you’re a great fit. This is your guide on what to say when you find yourself in this position.
We’ll explore the alternatives to relevant job experience and 25 different examples of what to say when you don’t have experience for a job that are sure to help you land your dream position.
What to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you have practical skills that are relevant to the job
You can’t avoid needing to possess certain skills to do the job. But even if you don’t have the 5 years of experience they need, you can still demonstrate relevant practical skills.
When applying for this position, curate your resume to it. This means, identifying what is required, and pulling on examples from your work experience.
You don’t need to add skills that do not relate to the job. Most hiring managers merely skim resumes and are looking for key practical skills to work with.
If your resume is too long, the reality is that many recruiters don’t even bother, because they have a ton of candidate submissions to review. It’s your job to show why you would be a great fit, and to make the recruiter’s job easy by getting straight to the point.
Here are 5 examples of what to say when you don’t have experience for a job, and you want to play on specific KPIs:
01“97% customer satisfaction rating, surpassing company expectations by 17%.”
Use this metric when applying for a job in the customer service sector. It demonstrates that you have great customer skills, and consistently perform above company requirements.
Photo by fizkes on shutterstock
02“Decreased project completion time by 30% by introducing new workflow guidelines.”
This is good to use when you’ve worked on a project to improve productivity. It shows that you can not only improve your productivity but that of those around you. It also displays your ability to meet deadlines and work efficiently.
03“Renegotiated supplier contracts to decrease monthly expenditure by $100,000.”
This tells the recruiter you’re able to act on behalf of the company to their benefit. This example talks about decreasing expenditure and increasing profits, which is what every company ultimately needs.
Photo by fizkes on shutterstock
04“Responsibility for managing a portfolio of 20+ clients, addressing queries, updating databases, and providing feedback.”
This demonstrates your ability to manage multiple contracts and provide information to important clientele as necessary. It also displays computer proficiency skills and customer service experience.
05“5 years Microsoft Suite proficiency.”
Many jobs require full range use of Microsoft programs such as Excel, Word, Teams, etc. Use this when you are fresh out of university, with hardly any work experience. You can count your 4 years of university as experience, along with any job you’ve done that required the use of these programs.
What to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you have important transferable skills that are relevant to the job
Some skills are not easy to measure by established metrics, so you’ll have to demonstrate how they can transfer and be relevant to the job. For example, communication skills or problem-solving skills.
This says that while you don’t have the specific experience for this role or job title, you have some skills that are required to carry out the job. To do this, you’ll need to cite specific examples or summarize how you performed over time because it may not be clear to the recruiter if you just list “Strong communication skills” or “Works well with others”.
Here are some examples of what to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you possess relevant transferable skills:
06“Handled sales and customer inquiries to meet and exceed monthly sales targets.”
Use this to demonstrate that you have good customer service and problem-solving skills. It also says that your skills help to boost productivity.
Photo by marvent on shutterstock
07“Superior organizing and multitasking skills necessary to implement strategies for the workforce while maintaining day-to-day duties.”
This is good to use to demonstrate your organizational skills, as well as your ability to multitask without getting distracted.
08“Organized the company’s largest charity event, raising over $20,000 for local high schools.”
This demonstrates your ability to organize events, which will include strong leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
Photo by Monkey Business Images on shutterstock
09“Conducted 40+ refresher workshops across 5 locations in 3 states.”
This not only demonstrates leadership skills but also presents you as a valuable asset, especially when coming in as a new person with fresh ideas. It also demonstrates your ability to work in different places, and your geographical impact on the company.
10“Collaborated with department heads and hiring managers across 7 teams to create a functioning 5-year marketing model.”
This demonstrates your ability to work well with others, as well as find solutions for an existing problem.
What to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you want to emphasize that you are a quick learner, take direction well, and are coachable
Companies look for people that will fit into the existing system or workflow. They should be able to observe and adapt, as well as take directions and coaching as it comes.
If you are fresh from university, this is a way to leverage yourself in job applications. Use examples of projects you worked on at university, whatever work experience you have and how you performed on the job.
You may also combine this with demonstrating that you’re a fast learner. The best way to go about this isn’t listing “Fast learner” as a skill.
What proves that you were able to catch up with experienced colleagues? Were you promoted or did you accomplish something in a relatively short time?
Here’s what to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you’re adaptable:
11“Promoted from intern to Junior Marketing Assistant within 6 months for demonstration of superior work ethic and organizational impact.”
This is good to use when you want to say you got promoted at your last job because of how well you worked and adapted to your role. It also lets the recruiter know that you can work under minimal supervision, and you won’t require extensive training.
Photo by Suteren on shutterstock
12“Upgraded customer query interface to reduce customer support calls by 20% within 7 months of hire.”
This says that you saw an existing problem and played a key role in fixing it despite only being in the company for a short time. You were able to identify it and have a strong organizational impact. It also says a lot that you were the one to do it and not others that have been there for a long time.
13“Executed training workshop for new hires and interns after 5 months on the job.”
This says that after only 5 months, you were selected to train new people because of how well you performed. It also shows strong organizational and leadership skills, and the ability to communicate well with colleagues.
14“Assisted a group of 7 department managers with introducing P2P payments systems by attending 3 seminars and conducting independent research.”
This says that you supported different departments in the company by going into the field to learn and do research to help with the transition. It says you can work both collaboratively and independently.
15“Scored 85% on the Salesforce Certification Exam, which had a pass mark of 65%, after four weeks of being in the job.”
The low pass mark says that the test is difficult, however, you were able to score 20% more than that on your first try and in just a few weeks.
Photo by Victoria Dupont on reshot
What to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you will stick around for a long time and/or you are willing to travel for work
Company loyalty is very important, and you should be able to demonstrate that. It may mean traveling on a whim, moving to other locations, or even working odd hours.
Not everyone is able to do that, especially if they have family commitments tying them to one location. Since you’re not able to explain this over a phone call or at an interview, you should be able to include this in your resume somehow, without sounding desperate.
Statements like, “I live alone and can move anytime”, or “I have no obligations and can travel” make it seem like you don’t have a good work-life balance, or you simply have no important responsibilities, which can make you appear immature.
So, if you can’t say outrightl that your home-life situation is flexible, or that you are willing to do anything for the job, what can you say?
These of some examples of what to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but your personal aspirations and availability make you a good candidate:
16“Seeking a long-term position to expand industry knowledge and experience.”
Use this in the executive summary section of your resume. It says that you are looking for a job where you can settle and see through the rest of your career.
17“Completed 8-month voluntary English-teacher work program in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.”
This shows your commitment to charity, as well as your experience in traveling and working abroad. It also indicates your multilingual abilities.
Photo by ABO PHOTOGRAPHY on shutterstock
18“Seeking an entry-level position in a company I can grow with and where I can improve my skills and talents.”
This is good to use when you are a young job seeker. Some companies shy away from hiring young people because they think they’ll leave as soon as a better offer comes along. This says that you are looking for somewhere you can settle down and build your career.
19“Collaborated with 12 international branches to create candidate criteria and an onboarding process for new hires.”
This can mean that you physically traveled to the other branches to work together, but it can also mean you collaborate using technology.
In the latter sense, it displays flexibility and the ability to collaborate on an international level which is just as valuable as traveling physically. Similarly, it tells the hiring manager that should they send you to another facility or branch, you’ll still be productive.
Photo by Shift Drive on shutterstock
20“Spent 2 of 5 years at Tokyo office learning the language and workflow model.”
This demonstrates your ability to work in unfamiliar environments, even those where you don’t know the language. It says you’re still able to do your job wherever you are in the world.
What to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you have a passion for the industry or the company
Employers are looking for people who have a passion for the industry, or at the very least, admire the company they work for. This means the employees will be more dedicated to the role, go above and beyond, and work harder.
Some companies are hesitant to hire candidates with limited job experience, and job-hoppers. The reality for many university graduates is they may work multiple retail or fast- food jobs, which counts as experience in that industry, but they may be seen as job- hoppers.
Here are 5 examples of what to say when you don’t have experience for a job, but you are passionate about the industry or company:
21“Three-time Wisconsin Film Festival Winner for Makeup, Screenplay, and Special Effects, four-time Screen Writer nominee, six-time Independent Film nominee.”
This example is specific to someone who wants to work in the motion picture industry, but it can also be customized based on awards and nominations you have received.
It shows that you are awarded and recognized in the field for your talents, which counts as experience.
Photo by fizkes on shutterstock
22“Robotics Engineering Scholarship for exemplary educational performance and project development.”
This is good to use when you won a scholarship because you demonstrated diligence, commitment and a passion for the niche.
It is a good way to set yourself apart from other candidates.
23“Car enthusiast with experience in bodywork and mechanical modification with a keen interest in manufacturers such as [insert company name].”
Use this to show that this industry is both a hobby and a serious career path for you. It also demonstrates a passion for the company, because you are implying this would be a dream job.
Photo by UfaBizPhoto on shutterstock
24“Worked with [insert company name] as an intern from 2019-2021 during my final year of college, building rapport and fueling personal passion.”
Use this when you already have an interest in the company because you worked as an intern for work experience or even course credits. This says that you loved your experience, that it was a dream job and you’re eager to learn more about the industry.
25“University graduate with a profound interest in deepening knowledge of social media marketing and digital strategies.”
This may be used in the professional/executive summary section of your resume. It says though you lack relevant job experience, you’re passionate about the field and would love to learn more about the industry. It also indicates that you’re looking for a long-term role.
When you’re just starting out in the working world, it can be intimidating to see job posts with all these requirements about experience. In reality, experience doesn’t make or break “hireability”.
Use this as a guide for what to say when you don’t have experience for a job to increase your chances of getting hired and boost your confidence. Good luck!