Entering the job market with little to no experience can be frustrating for any worker — even entry-level job descriptions often require a solid set of skills. While a sparse resume can make for a discouraging job search, there are ways to use what you already know to land that first job you need to boost your experience.
Here are three ways to show a hiring manager you’re worth taking a chance on:
1. Reach out for an informational interview
Career coach Maggie Mistal suggests that the best way to get your foot in the door is through strategic relationship building in the form of informational interviews.
“Even at a cocktail event, just asking someone what they do is the start of an informational interview,” Mistal tells CNBC Make It. “It gets you the information you need and it gets you the relationships you didn’t have.”
To set up an informational interview, Mistal suggest reaching out to any LinkedIn connections who work in the field or company you’re targeting, and to not be afraid to do some cold-calling.
“Once you get the ball rolling then it’s like you have your script,” she says. “You know how to introduce yourself, you know what questions to ask, and you can usually be done in 15 minutes.”
2. Emphasize your soft skills
While many job seekers with little to no work experience struggle to determine exactly what to put on their resume, emphasizing your soft skills can put you one step closer to getting hired.
Whether it’s volunteer work, a leadership position within an organization, a part-time gig or helping a friend build a social media presence for their business, nearly all professionals, regardless of experience, have skills and prior achievements they can bring to the table.
According to jobs platform Monster, the soft skills that show up the most in job listings across various industries include problem solving, attention to detail and oral and written communication skills.
3. Make connections at a job fair
Job search platform Glassdoor reports that 90 percent of colleges and universities host career fairs year-round. Seventy-five percent of U.S. employers report recruiting from them.
While job fairs can seem intimidating to some, the in-person connections you’re able to make with countless employers can give you a leg up against job seekers applying for the same position online.
Even large companies like Amazon — which hosted an event earlier this year with the goal of filling more than 50,000 full-time and part-time positions — rely on job fairs to find the right candidates.
To really seal the deal and standout from other applicants, CNBC Make It reporter Shawn Carter, who was hired after a meeting at a job fair, suggests candidates follow up with the employers they connected with to ensure that their career fair meeting isn’t forgotten.
“Within 24 hours of the fair, be sure to send a follow-up email, with your portfolio attached, re-emphasizing your interest in the position,” writes Carter. “It’s not easy to land a job at a career fair, but it is also not impossible, and if you’re serious about getting hired, it’s worth it.”