Searching for your first job or trying to grow your career and land a permanent gig is tough! Sure there are hundreds of jobs around but who’s going to hire you when you have zero experience? After endless applications it feels like you’ll never find a job.
It doesn’t help when it seems like every job ad you find reads something like: “Entry level retail position, perfect for recent PHD graduates with 40 years of experience in quantum physics. Must have a personal reference from Beyoncé and be willing to work 24/7. This is an intern position so will be unpaid, but for the right applicant may progress to paid work!”
Ok so we may have exaggerated a little bit, but come on, we’ve all been here right? Don’t give up yet. Take a break from stress scrolling seek, breathe in deep and keep reading. Here are our top tips to finding a job when you don’t have experience.
1: There’s no such thing as zero experience
It’s hard not to get down on yourself during a job search, especially if it feels like everyone else is miles ahead of you, but trust us, you’ve got skills and experience to leverage even if you don’t realise it. No really- hear us out!
Maybe you’ve done some babysitting, looked after siblings, or mowed lawns. You might have been part of some clubs or activities at school, worked on class projects or volunteered. This all experience you can put on your resume.
Each of these experiences have helped you grow and develop transferrable skills in time management, teamwork, organisation, decision making and more. Show this off in your resume and highlight how this experience (however small) will help you add value to the workplace.
2: Attitude is EVERYTHING
If you really feel like you have absolutely no experience whatsoever that’s ok. When you’re applying for entry level jobs, employers are looking for someone who’s willing to learn, can follow instructions and will always try as hard as they can.
Make your lack of experience work for you on your application and take the time to highlight what you can bring to this job that no one else can- your great attitude and total commitment to learning and growing.
On that note, don’t underestimate the benefit of keeping a positive attitude through your job search. Looking for work is HARD. If you’ve been at it for a while and have received a rejection or two that can get tiring after a while and take its toll. It’s not personal, you’re doing the best you can, so give yourself some credit. Keep reminding yourself that you WILL find a job because YOU ARE AMAZING.
3: Make your network work!
Ever heard the saying it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? This does hold a bit of truth to it. Having someone introduce you to an employer directly is much more valuable than unsolicited job applications.
Your network of friends, family, former teachers and community members are your biggest cheerleaders and between them all, they’re bound to know an employer who is dying to meet you.
Reach out to your network and ask if they know of any available positions or have any contacts, recommendations or introductions they can make for you to help you get your foot in the door. While asking for their help might feel daunting at first, remember, these people care about you and want to see you succeed. You’d do the exact same for them.
4: Hit the books
There’s no doubt about it, life experience is extremely beneficial when it comes to landing a job, but you can’t underestimate the importance of education and training either.
Depending on the job you want, you may need to get certain tickets or qualifications to be considered for a position, experience or not. Some of this training and accreditation can take a day or two (like getting your responsible service of alcohol) and others require a longer term commitment (like a certificate or a degree).
There’s a huge range of options to suit you, and don’t be freaked out if studying isn’t your thing- not all learning is sitting in a classroom and taking tests. The first place to start is to think about what kind of a job you want, and then see if there are any qualifications required to do it. Take it one step at a time.
If you’re aged 17-24, you may be able to study a free or low-fee course through the Australian Government initiative JobTrainer.
5: Everybody’s gotta start somewhere
How good would it be to land a job that pays 6 million dollars and all you have to do is play with puppies all day? Amazing right?! Realistic? Not so much, but hey if you find that job, let us know.
Be realistic in your plans. Take stock of where you’re at with your skills, experience and life stage and apply for jobs within your reach. Give yourself the best chance of succeeding and see every job as an opportunity to learn and grow.
We’re not saying settle for less than you deserve, (or are legally entitled to – make sure your know your rights) but don’t expect to be a high flyer your first day on the job either. Every job, volunteer position or training opportunity will lead to something bigger and help you get to where you want to be.
7: Find the right support
Having a great support network to lift you up is important in any job search. From resume writing, education and training, interview prep and beyond, we’ve got your back to help you find a job (and keep it).
Find out more about how our Disability Employment Services program can support you to find work or complete the form below to get started.
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