How to build skills without having experience

Companies will be more willing to give you an offer if they know that you have the proper foundation to learn how to do the job. The best way to prove to them that you are capable is to already have the relevant skills and experience required for the job.

Of course, if you are considering a career change or struggling to land an offer, you may not have the experience to show that you can perform. You may think you find yourself in a catch-22: you can’t gain the skills if you don’t have the job, but you can’t get the job because you don’t have the skills. Don’t get yourself down! There are actually plenty of ways to build up your skill set without first having a full-time position.

Here’s a quick overview of the tips:
* Read books, articles, or blogs
* Take classes
* Start a personal project or business
* Help out a friend, family member, or colleague with their project or business
* Find volunteer work
* Join a club or group
* Find an internship

1. Read books, articles, or blogs

The first and easiest place to start is by finding books, articles, or blogs that can help you learn more about your interests and stay up to date on the industry. Sites such as Medium or Quora have many different topics that you can subscribe to that will aid you in your search. Not only will this enforce your current knowledge, but can often lead to you find tools and proficiencies you didn’t know.

While reading articles doesn’t directly correlate in to a hard skill, it does increase your exposure to and knowledge of a given category, meaning you can dive deeper in to learning a new skill and are more confident during the interview process.

2. Take classes

A great way to learn and explore a new skill would be to take classes. Aside from getting a degree in your preferred area of study, many colleges and universities offer Continuing Education courses which do not require you to be seeking a degree. This can be a great resource for individuals that are wanting to gain additional knowledge outside of their degree, or for people who simply can’t afford to go back to college for another 2+ years.

If you don’t have the time to be in a physical classroom, there are plenty of online courses you can take to help you both scratch the surface or get a thorough and comprehensive understanding of a new topic.

For example, sites such as Udemy, Udacity, and Coursera offer courses on many different topics. Udemy runs classes on demand and is taught by industry experts on almost any topic you would want. Udacity courses are taught mainly by tech companies and organizations and have a strong focus in the technology field. Coursera offers courses taught by top universities and as such, courses are taught in an academic-setting. Prices vary by resource and topic, and will help you gain valuable skills to help lead you to that next position.

3. Take on personal projects

Another great way to gain a new skill or experience is to take on a personal project. Interested in becoming a web developer? Try making your own website from scratch. Trying to switch in to a career in marketing? Find a niche you’re interesting in and start a blog.

Remember that even though this is unpaid work, you can use the experience you’ve gain from these personal projects on your resume and in interviews. If you’ve found a niche, you can also try to monetize your services to minimize your costs or even turn a profit. If you have a website, consider placing advertisements. If you already have a useful skill but just need more experience before you can land a full-time job, try looking for freelance work.

While you’re working on a personal project, make sure you are using all of your available resources to help guide you in the right direction. Try searching the internet for “how to” articles, guides, or blog posts on seeing your project through completion. If you know someone already in the industry, reach out to them to see if they can provide you any helpful tips on progressing your career.

4. Help out a friend or family member

Maybe you have a good idea, but you feel like it is lacking in some way. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know that what you have just isn’t quite right. In times like this, don’t be afraid to ask a friend, family member, or colleague for help. The additional brain power can usually turn a good idea in to a great idea.

You might already have a great idea, but just aren’t sure how to implement it or get stuck somewhere along the way. Even if someone isn’t directly adding to your idea, they may be able to offer additional insight or guidance to help get you over that hump.

If you struggle to come up with the next big idea, chances are someone you know is looking for help with their own project. Since you already know them, they should be comfortable letting you help them out so you can sharpen your skills and help move their project or business along.

5. Volunteer

Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to your community or help others in need, but it can also help you land some new experience along the way. Everyone has a set of skills that can be put to use, you just need to find where and how to use those skills. Once you’re comfortable, you should add this experience to you resume.

6. Join a club or group

If your resume has a lot of blank space and you’re looking for more ways to help beef it up, you should look in to joining a club related to your interests. If possible, try to get in to a leadership position. This shows employers that you are comfortable taking charge and that you clearly contributed in a meaningful way.

Can’t find a club that fits your niche? Start one! Make sure you have a clearly defined direction and start posting flyers around your community and/or on social media to garner interest. Keep in mind that clubs aren’t just for college students and you may be able to find a group or meet-up for people who share similar interests to you

7. Find an internship

A lot of skilled jobs, even entry-level, will require some sort of internship experience. Even if they don’t require it, having internship experience will certainly help move you to the top of the pack.

Depending on the industry and company, you may find paid or unpaid internships. You shouldn’t be afraid to take an unpaid internship, especially if it is for a company you would consider taking a full-time position. Also keep in mind that internships aren’t only for college students. Many people take an internship after graduation or during a career change to help give them the experience they need to move in to a full-time role.

Final thoughts

The most important take-away here is to not count yourself down-and-out if you are lacking the necessary skills and experience for that next job you want. If you’ve followed these tips,
you will be ready to add relevant and valuable experience to help you fill out your resume and cover letter, and get you more comfortable in interviews.

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