We've all heard that employers want someone with work experience but it's hard to get work experience without a job!
What if we told you that some skills mean as much (if not more) to employers than previous work experience!
Intel from employers
The Department undertakes regular employer surveys to find out what employers look for in workers and how they recruit. Check this out:
- 38% of employers said relevant experience was not essential for their vacancy
- 72% of employers said employability (also called workplace) skills were just as important as technical skills
- 1 in 5 vacancies were not advertised. Instead, informal methods such as ‘word of mouth’ were used.
The trick to finding a job without experience is to work out how best to communicate what you have to offer to employers. You may also have to be a little more proactive to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
How to stand out to employers - even without work experience!
Do your research
- Find out all you can about employers you want to work for. Look them up online or visit them. Use this intel to understand how your personality and skills can benefit their business.
- Think of examples from your life that you can use to show employers why you are right for the job. Say you have researched a retail employer and know they are big on meeting sales targets. In your application you could highlight your excellent communication skills and how you love a challenge or that you are a competitive sports person who loves a friendly bit of competition.
Approach employers you want to work for
- Approaching an employer directly (whether they are actively recruiting or not), can give you a chance to show initiative, motivation and communication skills. These are skills that are must-haves for all jobs.
- Contacting employers before they advertise can also mean you won’t have much competition (hopefully none!). So, if you make a good impression and if they do have a vacancy, there’s a chance you could be successful. Even if they aren't currently hiring, ask them to hold onto your résumé in case they recruit in the future.
- Be prepared for some knock-backs! Approaching employers takes perseverance and resilience.
- For more tips, read our article on contacting employers directly
Build your experience through volunteering
- Work experience is work experience – it doesn’t have to be paid. Include ALL relevant workplace experience on your résumé. If it’s relevant to the job, you could for example, include the time you volunteered to help organise the end of year school concert. This can show teamwork, initiative and organisation skills.
- Use your track record of doing good in your community to your advantage. Maybe you’ve built solid organisational skills and shown commitment and perseverance while coordinating a fundraising event. Or maybe you worked well in a team to achieve a shared goal.
- If you don’t have any volunteer experience, it's never too late to start building it. Find a cause or organisation you’re interested in and decide how much time you can offer. Then make contact.
- Ask people you have volunteered with for references to support your application.
- Read our article to find out more about volunteering.
Watch our 'No work experience? No problem!' video for some more tips.
Are you looking for your first job or don't have much actual work experience to put in your résumé?
Remember, you have heaps of skills and abilities that you have developed outside a workplace.
Think about the many skills you possess:
- Maybe you’re a good communicator.
- Do you have good time-management skills?
- Are you a team player, or do your work well independently?
- Are you a creative, a problem solver or a computer whizz?
Think about times you used these skills to achieve something great:
- Maybe you aced a challenging project?
- Did you use your skills to help someone out?
Use these examples as the basis for your application.
And don’t forget:
- Do some research on the employer so you know about their business and what they look for in workers. Then explain how your skills and strengths make you a good fit for the job!
- Connect with those people in your life who can vouch for your skills and qualities: teachers, mentors, family friends, or other community members. Ask them if they are happy to be listed as a referee or help you build your résumé.
For more tips for building a stand-out résumé check out our articles at Build your basic resume.