Whether you’re looking for your first job or switching careers, it’s possible to land that job you’re after no matter how sparse your resume is. You don’t have to offer free labor, go back to school, or rely on the generosity of others, either. If you’re willing to put in the effort, these methods can help you secure a job like a true professional. 
Just because you lack formal work experience does not mean you lack the skills required to do a job. When you have little to no work history, especially in a relevant field, you need to explain to the employer how your skills meet their needs. 
Resumes aren’t just for rattling off jobs. If you tweak the layout a bit, you can put emphasis on a “Skills” section that lists out your top skills. For a very weak resume, consider two different skills sections, one for soft skills (personality qualities like good communication) and one for hard skills (knowledge and abilities like the design tools you use). 
While you should never overstate your abilities, you can quickly pick up a new skill while waiting for an interview and, eventually, while waiting for your new job to begin. Remember: Most people are lazy. Some experienced people won’t bother to skill up, and many inexperienced people expect to learn on the job. Make an effort to strengthen your abilities and you’ll stand out for it. 
Showing your work is an excellent way to stand out, especially in cases where your resume looks “thin.” If you’re in an industry where a portfolio can be included to showcase your personal and professional projects, always share one. However, there’s a concept called “spec work” where you do some work for a dream client — one that hasn’t necessarily hired you.
Many types of jobs have hiring managers who prioritize portfolios over resumes, like if you’re getting into graphic design, content writing, proposal writing, and so on. Spec samples can make your application look very impressive, and show your skills in a practical manner.
Resumes typically follow a predictable format, but cover letters are a lot more “anything goes.” This means that your cover letter allows you to draw attention to your unique skills and spec samples that may not show through on a resume alone. Ideally, you’ll personalize your cover letter to every single job application you submit. 
Writing a cover letter can be tough, but the goal is to make sure you aren’t too stuffy or formal. Try to match the tone of the company’s culture, being more formal or more conversational depending on how they write on official pages. Also, read the job description so that you can directly address the key skills and deliverables the company is looking for.
It’s not who you are, it’s who you know — This saying is true more than ever, especially as the job market heats up. While companies are required to employ fair hiring practices, someone within the company can recommend you and it can bring a great deal of attention and credibility to your application. Luckily, you don’t have to have an uncle that works at Microsoft.
You can quickly build connections both in-person and online and, if networking seems daunting to you, it’s probably a mindset issue. The key is to approach each potential connection with the mindset of, “What’s in it for them?” By finding a way to create mutual value, the people you reach out to will genuinely look forward to helping you. 
It’s also important to send messages that are completely natural and honest. We’re all busy, and no one wants to interact with a robot or someone who is clearly just asking us for a favor with no prior relationship in place. It’s also important to follow up because, again, we’re all busy. While you shouldn’t pester or harass anyone, sending a message a couple of days later will help you get a response. 
When you’re searching for a job, it’s easy to get lost in the application process. One submission after another, you may begin to feel doubtful and drained, wondering if the right position will ever come along that doesn’t have a hundred other applicants hopefully waiting. For some people, quitting this process is the right thing to do.
While not everyone is in the position to become self-employed, it is a viable option for many, especially in the days of freelancing and remote work. You could even take on a part-time or relaxed remote position as a W-2 employee, and use your spare time to build a brand for yourself. The best part? Your resume doesn’t matter when you work for yourself.
There’s no denying that building a business requires extreme determination and courage, but it can be done. Once you get a little way down the road, you’ll have more opportunities than ever before and you’ll be on the other side of the interview table, qualifying clients of your own instead of trying to impress a recruiter for a 9-to-5. 
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