Finding a job with no experience is something most of us can identify with. After all, we usually start a job where we are the ‘newbies’ and face a steep learning curve to become good at whatever it is that keeps us on the payroll. Feeling that you have no experience is normal, especially if you’ve just left school or haven’t worked for a while.
But, do you really have no experience? In nothing? I reckon you might be underselling yourself, and here’s why.
A job is more than just doing set tasks. It’s about other stuff too – like working in a team, being respectful, solving problems, helping others, or being okay when things go wrong. These are ‘soft skills’ and are difficult to measure, but they are important to the person hiring you.
The first step is to spend some time making a list of the experiences and skills you already have. Think about what you’ve learnt from your hobbies, sport, volunteering, school, or interactions with friends? Look at whether these show examples of:
- working in a team
- problem solving
- making friends easily
- staying calm when things go wrong
Ask your friends, teachers, family, or anyone else you trust, about the skills and abilities they think you have. They might see things in you that you’ve missed or are unaware of. Chances are these skills have come from experiences doing things you like doing, things that you are passionate about or things you are good at. Of course, there are also negative experiences which you can learn from, so don’t overlook them. By combining the good and these bad experiences you should have a good idea on what sort of jobs are realistic options for you.
Now you’ve worked out that you do have experience after all, it’s time to look at some strategies for finding a job where you can use your experience. Here are some suggestions:
- Networking – Use your networks to find potential jobs. Your parents, their friends, your friends, teachers, social network connections, or professional bodies. Network with anyone who might know of a job or someone who can connect you to job opportunities.
- Marketing – Make yourself known to potential employers or industry representatives. Ask to meet so that you can find out more about the job you’re interested in or how they got started. Compare the experience you have with what you’ll need to have for the job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are learning about them while they learn about you. It’s not a job interview, so don’t stress.
- Researching – Make a list of the places where you’d like to work. Find out what they do, and what sort of jobs they offer. If you think there could be something there to fit you, contact them and ask if you can meet them to introduce yourself and to find out more.
- Volunteering – Volunteering is a great way to develop new skills, work with people from a range of backgrounds and get a reference for your CV. While you adding to your list of experiences you are helping others – which is good for you and your job prospects.
- Mentoring – While you’re doing any of the above, you might find someone who has the type of job you’d like, or skills and experience you admire. Think about asking them to help you to achieve your goals by being your mentor. You can learn a lot from a mentor: how they got to where they are, what traps there are for young players and what to focus on.
And finally, believe in yourself – but not too much. It’s important to be confident, but you also need to show a potential employer that you know you have more to learn, and that you’re motivated to learn. Be realistic in the jobs you apply for by doing your research so you don’t set yourself up for failure. Many experiences, no matter how you get them, can be useful in finding a job when you take a closer look at them.