8 Tips to Gather Experience to Land Your Dream Job

4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many college graduates and people who want to change careers have a difficult time getting the job they want because they lack experience. But companies often hire people who already have the experience, leaving a host of smart and driven workers out of the loop.

Here are 8 tips on how break free from this vicious cycle. 

Related: 5 Ways Job Seekers Blow It

1. Determine specifically what you want to do

When you need the money, you need to take whatever you can get -- but this doesn’t mean you have to stop looking for a better job. Determine what your skill sets and talents are and write down three jobs you'd like to have.

2. Volunteer

If nobody will hire you because you lack the experience, your best bet is to do some volunteer work to get some experience. A few hours a week can give you real-life skills that you can put down on your resume and will increase your chances of getting that job down the road.

3. Apply to small companies

Large companies get a ton of job applicants when a position opens. This reduces your chances of getting a job because you'll lose out to someone who has more experience. The trick is to apply for companies with between one and 20 employees. You'll stand out more in the pool of applicants, and the manager may be more willing to train you.

4. Network, and be creative

As always ask your friends and relatives if they know of anyone who would hire someone with your background. You may get lucky and find someone. It's always important to let as many people as possible know that you're looking for a job in a particular field.

There are also many nonprofit agencies that offer career classes in networking effectively. Or even go to your local book store and read a book on how to conduct an effective job search.

Related: 'Hey, F*ck You, Buddy. Now, Hire Me Please!'

5. Study your favorite companies

If you have two to three companies in mind, try to learn about their managerial structure. Determine how things work, who is in charge of making the hiring decisions, and then contact the appropriate people. Research the companies you're interested in. If you graduated from college, check out your college’s career center and get some valuable information.

6. Don’t rely on HR

Don’t spend too much time working with HR. Fill out the necessary applications and whatever is required of you -- that's all. Try to find out who the manager in charge of the department you'd like to work for, and reach out to them. Focus your job efforts on those supervisors who have the power to hire you instead of relying on Human Resources.

7. Be flexible, and look outward

If you can’t find a job in a particular field, try to find something that might be similar. Spread out your job search net as wide as possible. The more companies you find that use your skills, the better. Remember, it's all about building up your experience. 

8. Keep updating your skill sets

Get into the habit of updating your skills, even during a long job search. Learning how to use the latest computer software, for instance, will help you keep you current -- and valuable -- in today’s market. Continuous education could be the key to getting that job that you want. There's always something to learn.

Related: What You Need to Do to Make a Midlife Career Change

More from Entrepreneur

Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources
Entrepreneur Insider members enjoy exclusive access to business resources for just $5/mo:
  • Premium articles, videos, and webinars
  • An ad-free experience
  • A weekly newsletter
  • Bonus: A FREE 1-year Entrepreneur magazine subscription delivered directly to you
Discover a better way to hire freelancers. From business to marketing, sales, finance, design, technology, and more, we have the freelancers you need to tackle your most important work and projects, on-demand.

Latest on Entrepreneur