When you are new to a field, applying for jobs can seem impossible. Whether you find yourself seeking your first job after graduation or changing fields later in your career, applying for a position you want without relevant experience can be a challenge. However, there are many ways to convey your value to the employer, especially in the cover letter.
First, be sure to read the job description thoroughly. What qualities is the employer seeking for the position? What types of experience does the ideal candidate have? Knowing what the employer is looking for is crucial for presenting yourself as a candidate for the position.
Next, match up the qualifications with the experiences you have. Maybe you lack 3 years of experience, but you have a degree in the field. Perhaps you have leadership experience from a volunteer position that fits the bill. Your prior job titles may have been different, but maybe your tasks were similar. Don’t discount your unpaid experience! If you have volunteer or internship positions that showcase the skill set the employer is seeking, then by all means, show it off.
Once you have decided which pieces of your experience are best suited for the position, it is time to create a compelling cover letter. Remember that a cover letter should not be a rewrite of the resume – use this space to tell a story that shows you are the ideal candidate for the position.
Focusing on the skill set you’ve identified above, show the employer how your seemingly unrelated experience has prepared you for the position you are applying for. Maybe your time as a bakery manager has made you an expert in the industry, so now you are seeking a marketing position. Perhaps your rigorous degree plan satisfies the employer’s need for several years of work experience. The employer will not know how your qualifications relate to the position until you tell them.
If you desire a position that your prior experience seems unrelated to, then it is up to you to show the employer how your background has prepared you for the role. Convince the employer that you are the person that matches their job posting, even if your experience is slightly different.