ATTENTION: All weekly classes, full-day bootcamps and 1:1 coaching are offered online!

“Experience Required” Part 2 of 4: How To Get The Interview (when you don’t have the right experience)

How To Get The Interview

You’re looking at a position and you don’t have the exact experience. Should you even apply? Yes! (we cover why you should in this article). 

Okay, great. So you’ve decided to apply. Now how do you maximize your chances of getting the interview? 

Well, what you don’t want to do is the “apply and hope” method. You send out your resume and cover letter into a black hole and never hear back. This is what most people do and it has a low chance of success if you don’t have the exact experience for the role. 

So that the hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t just dismiss you, you need to take extra effort to stand out. Here’s 3 steps to do that! 

The Non-NEGOTIABLE (Pre-Work)

Tailor your resume picture

Before you even start applying to jobs you want to make sure your resume reflects the best experience possible so you’re not wasting any time. When applying for jobs it’s totally normal to not hear back from, potentially, most jobs you apply to – that’s just the nature of it. 

However, there are things you can do to increase your odds of hearing back. The first thing you want to do is make sure your resume has similar elements as what are listed in the job description of your desired role. You want to look at what’s needed in the job then paraphrase those elements under your experience where it’s true (DO NOT copy and paste because it’ll look unprofessional and be obvious).  

Having worked as a recruiter in the past, when I came across a resume that looked like an okay fit for the job and when I would call them they typically had the relevant experience for the job and it just wasn’t on their resume. 

Another situation I saw, would be that someone didn’t have the perfect experience for the job but they have relevant enough experience to at least get an interview set up; again even with their resume not reflecting that. 

In both these situations, I would adjust a few (still holding true, never making up experience that isn’t real) elements on their resume and put in that experience – sure enough they’d get the green light for an interview from the hiring manager.

Formula for reaching out

connect + message picture framework

After you’ve tailored your resume to the job you’re applying for, the next step is to reach out to the recruiter/manager or individual responsible for the job if you haven’t heard back in 2 to 3 days from applying. 

There’s a 3 step process that you can follow every time to show your persistence and dedication to the desired company and role.

  1. Find the recruiter or manager responsible for the role.
  • Usually have their name listed on the job posting, search on LinkedIn for the company or their exact names to see their roles, search on the company website. 
  1. Research the company and come up with an authentic reason why you want to work there, that’s not obvious and unique to the company. 
  • Example: The company has a unique offering they list on their website, which stands out. They could have a unique approach, technology or community that resonates with you. 
  1. If you don’t hear back within a few days, reach out to the recruiter/hiring manager via LinkedIn (through a “connect” + message), or if you can find their email from the job posting/website, saying you applied to X role and are interested in working there because of Y reason (which you did in step 2).
  • Briefly, provide past experience of yours that’s relevant to the role.
  • Let them know you’re aware you may not have the exact experience they’re looking for but how you have transferable skills and transferable experience that would work, and if they’re open to having a brief call to see if this role or another in the company could be a possible fit.
  • Example message: “Hi, I applied to the software engineer role you have open and just wanted to follow up with you, not sure if you’re responsible for this role or could point me in the right direction for who is, because although I don’t have Angular 2 experience at my last role I did use Angular.js and have used Angular 2 on side projects. I really love that you guys have a “bring your dog into work” on Friday’s policy because my French Bulldog would love getting out of the house and socializing! Anyway, if you’re open to a quick chat to see if I may be a fit for this role or another role in the company, let me know. -Name

This message broken down: 

  • You let them know what you applied for
  • Let them know you’re not sure if they’re the ones responsible and if they could point you in the right direction if not
  • Address any lack of experience to let them know you’re aware of your skillset but are still confident you can do this job
  • Mention what you like about the company (your research in step 2)
  • Set the action step of getting on a call

Follow-up if they don’t respond

How to follow up picture example

If you don’t get a response within 5 days, send a follow-up message. This shows persistence and immediately differentiates you. Plus, there’s a chance they simply missed the message or forgot. 

When you follow up, start by saying you wanted to make sure they got your previous message. 

Then, briefly reiterate why you’re interested and how you have transferable skills and experience that would help you succeed. You can also reiterate that you are open to other positions as well. 

That’s it! Keep it brief, since they can just refer to your previous message. 

If you don’t get a follow-up after that, it’s probably best to move on – that way you can focus your efforts on other positions. 

Here’s what that message could look like: “Hi ____, I’m following up to make sure you received my previous message. I’m really interested in the software engineering role you posted and feel that my experience in Angular.js (and experience with Angular 2 on side projects) will help me ramp up to the role quickly. I understand if you’re looking for something else and am also open to other positions in your team or the company. Thanks for considering.” 

Every single day, recruiters and hiring managers give people a chance when they don’t have the exact experience. So don’t let your experience stop you. But you do need to take extra steps to make up for that lack of experience and make it easier for them to justify an interview with you. If you do these 3 steps, you’ll increase your chances in the long-run. You never know where you’ll end up! 

Chaz Wolfson