How to Gain Experience When You Don’t Have Any

Talk about the classic Catch-22 situation! You need to find a job so you can accumulate some experience, but you need the “required” experience to get a job. Even though you have worked hard to earn a degree, certificate, or other credentials, most employers are looking for candidates that have on-the-job experience.

You might be concerned that taking an entry-level job in retail or hospitality could inhibit your chances of landing a job in your chosen field, but that isn’t usually the case. Employers often look for real-world experience that came from an unrelated job. They don’t care how many cheeseburgers you served; it’s the fact that you developed soft skills that are altogether different from what you learned in school that matters to them.

Here are some things to consider as you attempt to gain experience and enter the job market for the first time:

Take that Random Job

Once you’ve been in an unrelated job, you will have gained some experience being part of a team, adhering to company policies, showing up on time, and working under supervision. Working in a fast-food or retail environment will provide an opportunity to develop those soft skills that most employers love to see: communication, collaboration, enthusiasm, work ethic, and reliability.

Build Your Portfolio From Your Other Contributions

If you’re a content writer or programmer, that’s much easier. You can apply for a position without having been employed as long as you have the right background and portfolio. It’s not quite as easy for other roles, but you can look at mentorship groups, online courses, and soft skills training classes to boost your qualifications. Non-profits are generally open to volunteers, as well as conferences and other event organizations to add to your portfolio.

Look For Companies That Are Accepting Interns or Entry-Level Roles

Many companies are looking to hire at the entry-level, and some offer regular internships. These can be starting points for those trying to crack the job market. A few internships, along with flattering references, could help you get your foot in the door in the future.

Apply Anyway

Most companies are posting an ideal job description without necessarily expecting candidates to meet all of the qualifications. It could be worth trying even if you aren’t the perfect applicant. There might be something unique or interesting on your resume that catches the recruiter’s attention. It never hurts to try!

Networking Helps

Meeting a future manager or a co-worker of yours can shortcut the process if you can make it happen. Career fairs, open-door events at companies, and conferences could do the trick. LinkedIn or Twitter might help your cause, too.

And if you still can’t find work of any kind? Stay busy! Volunteer, participate in community activities, and be social. You’ll meet more people and find opportunities by being out in the world than by retreating into yourself.

Are You Looking to Grow Your Career?

If you are in search of the right job for you, and your budding career, we can help! We’re always hiring for entry-level candidates in a varity of fields. Contact us today to learn more.

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