It’s easy to feel a little defeated when reading through a job advert that you don’t think you qualify for.

But just identifying your dream job is actually a huge first step in the direction of getting it.

The next part is working toward fulfilling the criteria and making yourself an eligible candidate.

However, here comes the job seeker’s Catch 22. Without the necessary experience you don’t think you stand a chance of getting the job. But you need the job to get the experience, not to mention to develop those extra skills…

But, hold on. It’s not as bad as all that.

There are other methods of gaining equivalent experience and positioning yourself as a strong candidate. Recruiters are often swayed by potential and enthusiasm as much as technical competence and a strong track record in the field.

Here are 4 ways to land your dream job without the necessary experience.

1) Interning and volunteering

There is no better substitute for “real” work experience than experience gained as an intern or volunteer.

In many cases, the tasks you take on as an intern or volunteer will be virtually identical to those of an entry-level position in the same field at the same company. (The only difference being the level of responsibility you’ll be given.)

And it is very common for interns or volunteers who make a good impression on their colleagues and superiors to be offered a job. In that way, you can almost bypass the recruitment process altogether, returning to the labour market at a later time with some proper experience under your belt.

But interning and volunteering can give your job prospects a major lift even if you don’t land a job at the end of your stint.

The experience gained will do wonders for your CV, and the contacts you make could prove decisive in providing references, giving you guidance, and by sharing any opportunities they come across.

Next steps

  1. Read the Graduateland guide to internships
  2. Check out how volunteering can be great for your career
  3. Make a list of suitable companies you’d be interested in interning or volunteering for
  4. Reach out to potential employers with a short cover letter and your CV
  5. Check out internship positions listed on Graduateland

2) Networking

Building a strong professional network is a very powerful method for increasing your chances of landing that dream job.

As a recent graduate, you can never start networking too soon. Your professional network will include (at the least) your teachers and fellow classmates. When entering the labour market it’s a good idea to expand your pool of contacts.

People in your network can help you by offering advice, providing references to attest to your skills, potential and personal qualities, and by sharing news of new job openings with you. (And, of course, you can do the same right back).

Contacts in your network can be a decisive factor in furthering your career.

Expand your network by attending events related to your industry or profession, such as conferences, workshops, talks, or career fairs. As an intern or volunteer, be sure to build relationships and stay in touch with former colleagues after you leave.

Be sure to work on an elevator pitch, or professional introduction, to help you get across who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

You should always ask more experienced or senior contacts to provide a reference for you. This personal testimony from someone with experience can go a long way to making up for your inexperience, and will make a very positive impression on recruiters.

Next steps

  1. Read the Graduateland guide to networking
  2. Develop a winning elevator pitch
  3. Attend professional events and expand your network
  4. Get references from senior and more experienced contacts and colleagues
  5. Ask your network about new openings and opportunities

3) Taking a short course

Short courses can be a powerful way to boost your CV.

Dedicating extra time after your main course of study is over to further your skills demonstrates commitment to your chosen field and a willingness to learn and develop.

Recruiters look very kindly on that sort of dedication to your career.

It may be that you think the expense of a short course to help you land a job is good value for money, but there are also many free, online courses available too if the cost is a problem.

You may not receive a recognized certificate for completing some online courses and training programs, but potential employers will certainly be persuaded of your enthusiasm for the field.

Consider reaching out to your network (see previous section) and asking your contacts what courses and training programs they would recommend to help you land a job in your chosen area. Courses in new fields and different subjects might help give you a more broad professional platform, so don’t rule anything out.

Next steps

  1. Identify skills you could do with improving or developing
  2. Browse online for reputable and highly-rated programs, whether online or at a university or college
  3. Reach out to your network for advice on what subjects to pursue

4) Taking up a hobby or extracurricular activity

It’s fair to say ‘Hobbies and Interests’ is the most underrated section of a CV.

Recruiters want to get to know the candidates they are potentially hiring. The more of a rounded sense of the person they have, the greater confidence they can have in bringing them in.

Plus, personal qualities count for a lot. In a crowded field of similarly-educated and well-qualified candidates that little bit extra can prove the difference in landing a job.

While some of us get by with little more than Netflix and the occasional night out, others have plenty more to shout about. If you’ve been coaching a sports team, organizing community events, building websites, or writing blogs then you should be making the most of this in your applications.

Don’t forget to include extracurricular activities you pursued at university or college, too.

If you’ve always wanted to take on an impressive, stimulating, and rewarding hobby, now’s the time!

Next steps

  1. Include any impressive and/or relevant hobbies and interests in your CV
  2. Explain in your cover letter why your extracurricular activities help prepare you to take on the responsibilities of the job
  3. Take on those interesting and impressive hobbies you’ve always been meaning to get started with