Looking for work with little or no experience?

14 Mar 2017

One of the biggest challenges you will face is to secure your first job, or to change profession. How do you compete when you have no or very little experience?

The power of your thinking
Our minds are incredibly powerful. Our thoughts affect our emotions and our performance – we become what we think. The job hunting process is challenging and even more so for someone without relevant experience. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and to remain positive. If you persevere, work hard and think about the problem creatively you will succeed!

What type of role are you applying for?
Your goal should be to get ‘your foot in the door’. It’s important to be realistic and to look at entry level positions where you can demonstrate your potential and willingness to learn. When your new manager sees that you can be trusted with a little, he or she will know they can trust you with a lot.

Turning the insignificant into the significant
You may not have formal work experience, but you do have life experience and skills. Your challenge is to identify the skills required by the job you are applying for and to use your CV and covering letter to demonstrate how your experience and skills meet that requirement. For example, many jobs require teamwork. Have you demonstrated that you are a team player at school, in a sports club or social club?

Volunteering is also a great idea! It’s a good way to upskill, add substance to your CV and demonstrate your work ethic to potential employers.

More than a CV
It’s a good idea to think about what you can do beyond preparing a CV and cover letter. A portfolio of evidence is a collection of documents that tangibly demonstrate your skills. For example, have you volunteered for a committee and taken meeting minutes? Including a copy of these minutes demonstrates your ability to listen and take clear and concise notes. It also demonstrates written communication and computer literacy skills.

Networking is also a great way to find work - let people know that you are looking! Very often it’s a referral through someone you know that leads to an interview. Social media is also a powerful way to network.

Upskill
Completing a course is not a guarantee to finding work, but it definitely does make you more competitive in the job market.

Author: Kim Elliott
Editor: Thembakazi Yamiso