Seeing ‘experience needed’ on a job ad can put off many jobseekers who don’t have that experience. However, there are other ways to persuade an employer that you’re right for the job. Everyone has to start somewhere after all. Here are a few ways to secure your dream job without experience.
Volunteering is a good way to get experience. Having voluntary experience behind you also shows enthusiasm for the field. This could be a work-shadowing experience or actual hands-on volunteer experience. Consider volunteering once a week or doing a week’s voluntary work.
This guide 3 Websites To Help You Find Volunteer Opportunities offers some useful advice on where to look. You may be able to message many companies directly and ask about work experience – many will be willing to offer it.
Try to use your volunteer experience to try as many new things and build as many new skills as you can. Occasionally, a voluntary position can lead onto a paid position – prove yourself by taking on as many responsibilities as possible, but similarly don’t let an employer take advantage.
Try an apprenticeship scheme
Unlike voluntary work, apprenticeships offer low pay whilst also training you up and giving you a qualification. Apprenticeships are available in many career fields. There may be certain conditions in some cases such as not having a degree or being under a certain age, whilst others may be more flexible. Many apprenticeships can lead onto a full-paid full-time job at the end.
Employers may not trust that you have the necessary skills, but if you feel confident enough why not freelance and get your own work? This will then give you the experience to put on your CV and pursue those ‘experience needed’ jobs. Freelancing will also show initiative and that you have the ability to work independently.
Sites like Fiverr are ideal for finding basic freelancing jobs. Many small businesses use these sites to outsource tasks such as writing jobs, photography, logo design, website testing and social media marketing.
Alternatively, you may be able to do work for a friend or family member. This could be anything from handling someone’s accountancy to tidying someone’s garden to baking a cake for someone – any skill that revolves around your dream job.
Find transferrable job skills in other roles
Climbing the career ladder isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes it can be beneficial to take on a related job to get you on the first rung – it may be enough to give you some skills that could help lead onto your dream job. For example, if you’ve got your heart set on working in a zoo, consider taking on work on a farm or in a pet store or in a dog shelter – it will give you work experience with animals that a zoo will look highly upon.
Some transferrable skills may be less obvious. This could be experience dealing with customers on the phone, stock organisation skills or leaderships skills. These could have been gained in a completely different role, but mentioning them could still be valuable, showing an employer that even though you’ve never worked in that line of work before you may still have the assets they’re looking for.
Find transferrable skills in everyday life
Some skills may not even require job experience to prove. You may be able to find proof of necessary skills from challenges in everyday life. These are often referred to as soft skills – for example creativity, being a good team player or being organised. Use situations to emphasise that you have these skills rather than simply saying ‘I’m a good team player’. For example, if you’re regularly in charge of splitting the bill, this could show that you’re organisational, a good negotiator and have a head for figures. If you’ve been involved in a sport since you were young, this may show perseverance, team co-operation skills and a competitive spirit.
Start a blog or vlog
The internet has made it easy for us to all market ourselves. Blogging and vlogging are just two ways of doing this. For example, if you want to get into the fashion industry, owning a fashion blog will show employers that you’re enthusiastic and dedicated to the field. If you want to become a chef, a cooking vlog could be a way of showing off your cooking ability and creativity as well as a confidence to advise others.
Blogs and vlogs can be centred around pretty much any topic. This guide How Blogging Can Make You More Employable gives advice on how to create a blog. Use these to demonstrate your know-how and enthusiasm and provide hyperlinks in your application.
Go back to school
Another option could be to try more education. You may have completed a course only to realise it doesn’t really lead to what you want to do. Alternatively, you may have no qualifications behind you and could be finding this an extra barrier.
In either case, it could be worth looking for a course that offers the relevant skills you need. If you feel you’re lacking business skills you could consider a specific business course such as business administration. This article What Are The Benefits Of Studying Business Administration? offers more information on the types of skills you could gain from such a degree. Alternatively, you may want to gain specific niche qualifications. There are plenty of short courses and even day workshops that can teach you everything from how to use WordPress to how to market on social media.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – this is still true to an extent. By associating with lots of people you’re more likely to discover job vacancies. These could be upcoming vacancies that an employer has not advertised, allowing you to get in there before anyone else. You may meet people who weren’t even consider taking on new employees but are willing to give you a role simply on your likability.
There are all kinds of ways to network. There are specialist networking events such as job fairs, trade fairs and conferences that are good places to meet people. There are also places online to network such as sites like LinkedIn. You’ve then got clubs and organisations that could help you to meet useful connections such as university societies, sports clubs, churches, activist groups and clubs for various hobbies. Even just going to a party or a wedding could be a networking opportunity without you even realising.
Don’t just apply to advertised vacancies
Many people get caught up applying only to job ads online and in shop windows, but you could be hugely limiting your search by doing this. Contacting companies directly by email or phone and asking if they have any vacancies can sometimes have more of an impact. It allows you to apply to the job the way you want to rather than following job ad specs, it can come across more personable and it can show an employer that you’ve got initiative.
As stated before, many employers may be considering hiring, and you may be getting in there early by messaging them directly. Some may be hiring internally. You may even be able to create a role for yourself that an employer didn’t even realise they needed.