Most ‘entry-level’ cloud computing jobs ask for years of prior experience, making it difficult to break into the field. How are you going to get your no-cloud-experience foot in the door? Will a cloud certification help if you don’t have the required experience? Yes, if you use it right.

Here are seven ways to use your cloud certification to land a cloud computing job without the required work experience:

1. Choose the Right Certification
Start by knowing what you want to accomplish and what you’re interested in. An AWS certification is the fifth highest-paying certification in the United States and Canada and appears the most in job board search results. There are four levels of certifications and specialties, all with different scopes and prerequisites. Google, Azure, and other cloud service providers offer different levels of certifications as well. Do your homework to know what is expected for each one, and determine which one is the best fit for you. Make sure you choose a training program that provides a hands-on experience so you can put what you learn into action and keep developing your skills while you’re looking for a job.

2. Build a Portfolio
Create a portfolio using projects from your training experience. Make sure your work is consistent from one project to the next as this is characteristic employers want. Redact any confidential information if you use a project from a previous employer or internship, and show your work. How you got there is just as important as the end result. Your certification proves you have knowledge — your online portfolio proves you can put it to use. Be sure and bring a digital and physical copy of your portfolio to your interview.

3. Have Reputable References
Compile a list of former or current supervisors, mentors, and colleagues, who can vouch for your knowledge, character, work ethic, and drive. Strong references coupled with a cloud certification and a strong portfolio can beat candidates with more experience.

4. Network
While you may prefer computer networks, your professional network can be more effective in landing you a job. Start reaching out to people you know, and let them know you’re interested in career opportunities in the cloud and are pursuing training. They can help you find the best training programs, introduce you to other contacts who can help you in your job search, act as references, and help you find projects to expand your portfolio. If you don’t have a deep network or many contacts in the cloud computing field, proactively find people in your desired field and ask for advice or a meeting. Build those relationships with a focus on your mutual interest in cloud computing. If you can prove your value to those contacts, they will help you land a job.

5. Be Curious Enough to Play in the Cloud
Cloud technology changes so often a person’s skill set needs to change with it. Curiosity is an important trait for cloud engineers and can be a bigger asset than experience because it means you’ll take the initiative to grow your skills. Earning your cloud certification already shows initiative and curiosity. Let curiosity lead you into hands-on experience playing with cloud applications and services. There are plenty of opportunities to do this for free or with minimal cost. The more hands-on experience you have, even if it’s just playing around, the more you’ll be able to discuss the elements of cloud applications and services. Highlight your curious nature in your interview, and discuss how it led you to gain cloud experience.