Looking for a job can be challenging (it can be a full-time job in itself!), particularly when most jobs advertised ask for previous work experience. So, what can you do to get a job with little-to-no work experience? We’ve put together a list of tips to help you out.
1. Be realistic
If you're applying for entry-level jobs (a person’s first job in an industry), most managers aren’t expecting you to come in with a resume filled with experience. Make sure you’re applying for positions that are appropriate for you. If you aren’t sure, give the listed contact a call or email to see what they’re looking for.
In a tight job market where employers receive lots of applications, there’s less incentive to take a chance on a candidate who doesn’t meet the key selection criteria. Carefully target jobs you truly can prove you can succeed in—not just those where you think, ‘I could do that’, but those where you can excel with the transferrable strengths and skills you already have.
2. Identify what makes you a fit for the job
Think about why you believe you are the right person for the job. What experience or qualities do you have that make the job a good fit? If you understand this, you will be able to explain it to a potential employer—even if you don’t have the exact experience they’re after.
Make a list of all the skills listed in the position description of the job you’re applying for and give examples of how you have successfully used some or all these skills in your volunteering work, work experience, school, community or club activity.
Computer skills, teamwork skills, communication skills, research skills and problem-solving skills are all used in some way in these activities. People who are hiring are looking for people who show commitment, are willing to work hard, and want to learn.
3. Highlight your strongest personal qualities
Remember to showcase qualities like friendliness, professionalism, and responsiveness. Highlight examples of your dedication, curiosity, and commitment to learning and growth. You can learn more about a potential employer’s values through their website and explain you have shown these values.
It’s also important to convey to potential employers your enthusiasm and motivation for the opportunity. Employers are more likely to consider candidates who have a positive attitude and express a sincere interest in the role. These traits are highly valued in the workplace.
4. Be confident and modest
Confidence is important but should be balanced with humility and modesty. Show that you can do the job, but recognise that you have some key areas you’d like to develop or grow. Show that you’re very willing to learn.
5. Start volunteering
If you can’t find a job, consider volunteering to build transferable skills and to help you get a better understanding of the industries you’re interested in. Volunteering also shows commitment and your personal values.
A volunteer position can often be easier to find than a paid job. You’ll not only gain valuable experience and contribute to an organisation that needs you, you’ll also be able to build a network and get a foot in the door. SEEK Volunteer is a good resource to view volunteer opportunities in your local area.
Make sure that you’re volunteering for an organisation that has a verified volunteer program. You don’t want to end up in an organisation that uses volunteering as a form of unpaid or unfair work, or promises employment after you’ve finished volunteering. You can read more about your rights with unpaid work through the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Building your personal network is a reliable path to a great job at any stage of life. Connect with everyone you know—and in turn with everyone they know—through social media, community and professional events, or setting up lunch or coffee dates to stay in touch. Read more about networking.
7. Keep learning
It may be that you need more education to qualify for what you really want to do. For example, if you discover you have an interest in psychology, then it may be time to apply for psychology studies, social work or youth work.
Even outside of formal education, find ways to keep your skills current and expand your base of knowledge. Apply for work experience, enrol in professional development or special training courses, or consider connecting with a mentor from your industry or field of interest.
8. Be resilient, be persistent, be patient
It may take a little while for you to get a job. Do something small every day with the mindset that it is not a waste of time, but a chance to learn and explore.
It can also help to allow yourself a break from the job search process and set aside time for hobbies and interests. When you do resume job searching, it can be easier to maintain enthusiasm, which can help you maintain job search momentum. And of course, reach out to get help. headspace Work and Study can support you in your job search
As Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson said when asked ‘what is the secret to success?’ - ‘There are no secrets. Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room’.
Searching for a job , especially when trying to start your first job, can be a daunting process. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone who has searched for work, such as your friends and family members, would have also started out with little or no experience. Patience, determination and dedication can be great values to have when you’re a job seeker. And remember, you can get help. headspace Work and Study can support you through your job search.
If you're 15 - 25 and want to get into work and study, get free and confidential support from the Work and Study team and sign up for one on one support.