6 Ways to Gain Relevant Work Experience Even When No One Will Hire You
Great ways to improve your resume’s experience section
A few years ago I was a college graduate with no job prospects. I applied to a sea of positions to only hear rejections if I was lucky, or no response at all if I wasn’t. Each passing day felt like I was less likely to find a job willing to give me a chance. The reason for all of these rejections? I didn’t have enough experience.
But that begs the question, how can I get more experience if no one will hire me?
Well lucky for you, I’ve created a list of ways to gain more exposure to your career goals whether you are changing careers or starting a new one. I’ve used most of these ways to help land me my first permanent job after college.
Yes, this suggestion is a surprise to almost none of you. However, I cannot emphasize how important unpaid work can be when trying to start or change careers. If you are willing, work for a cause you care about that is related to the field you are interested in or that gives you the skillsets you need to be successful in your career. Your volunteer experience can give your resume the experience boost it needs to land you a paid job.
The downside of volunteering is that it is not paid work. Not everyone is able to work for free, but if you can get a job elsewhere and volunteer, do so. While volunteering isn’t paid, it does give you the opportunity to help others and network. Networking is one of the best ways to help you get a job.
Some websites that list volunteer opportunities are:
2. Job Shadow
Like volunteering, job shadowing doesn’t pay you. However, it does give you an excellent opportunity to really see if the career path you’re interested in is right for you. It will give you a chance to experience the pros and cons of a job before you completely commit to it. This way you can get to know the job ahead of time giving you a chance to change directions in your career if you realize that this isn’t the right fit for you. But if you absolutely love the job, it will give you the opportunity to meet a few people you can network with later on when you are ready to start working.
Also, if you are in high school or college, job shadowing looks great on your resume! It makes your future employers and graduate schools (if you choose to attend) see that you’ve really done your research about your career path. Part of the reason many people hate their job is because they had an idea in their heads what it would be like, and didn’t really get to know the inner workings of what exactly they were going to do.
To job shadow, you would have to find a company you’re interested in and ask someone there if you can shadow them. It might best if you contact someone you have a connection with, like someone you met at a conference.
Well, you know what they say, those who can’t do teach! If you are passionate about a subject or skill that is important to your career goals, one of the best ways to get even better at it is to tutor. And you get the added bonus of helping others! I myself was a tutor online for 2 years on Chegg.com and Wyzant.com. These sites were a great way for me to gain more experience in my field because I helped students from different schools all around the world with their assignments. Each professor has a different way of teaching particular subjects, so I became even better, vastly improving my skills.
Plus, tutoring gives you other skills that are important to jobs, no matter what career you want to enter into, such as the ability to understand a topic and train others in it, the ability to identify strengths and weaknesses in people and situations, and it helps to develop excellent communication skills.
Once, when I was looking for a job, I was told in an interview how impressed they were with my tutoring experience. They liked the idea of having me work at their company so that I could get trained in a subject and teach everyone else what I learned. That way the company would save money by only sending one employee. You just never know how specific experiences will be useful for your next job opportunity.
Freelancing has similar benefits to tutoring, but it can pay more. You’d have the opportunity to work on a number of different projects, which can help you develop skills in different niches within your field.
There are many websites that you can use when looking for freelance jobs, like Upwork or Fiverr, but some freelancers don’t recommend these sites as you can end up working for exorbitant amounts of time for small amounts of money. Instead, to find freelancing opportunities it’s best to let others in your network know that you’re available if they need your expertise. However, that’s not to say that you can’t start off on one of these sites, I started freelancing that way. It’s how most people begin their freelance careers.
Once you’ve successfully completed a few freelancing jobs, this can be a great boost to your resume. You’ll not only have experience but possibly people willing to give you a recommendation as well. And the best part is you can keep freelancing if you’d like as your side-hustle. But if you’re freelancing does really well, you probably won’t need a full-time job at all.
5. Get an Internship, Apprenticeship, or Fellowship
In my opinion, internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships are some of the best ways to gain relevant work experience. It’s also one of the best ways to get a job when you are otherwise struggling to get one. That doesn’t mean that getting one isn’t very competitive. It can be just as difficult sometimes to get one as it is to get a job. However, they are usually more likely to give people will less experience a chance.
If you’ve done some of the previously suggested tips to gain experience, then you will greatly increase your chances of getting an internship. Internships have a bad reputation for forcing interns to do menial tasks, like get coffee for everyone in the office. But there are many great internships that allow you to gain excellent experience in your field. It’s a great way to transition into a new field if you are switching careers or just starting out.
Apprenticeships are great for people who either didn’t go to college or for those who don’t want to go back to school before starting a new career. Apprenticeships are usually paid and give you hands-on experience while learning new skills. While apprenticeships are not as popular as internships, they are definitely a great opportunity. Many of them tend to transition into jobs.
Apprenticeships can sometimes be a little harder to find, but the other day I found 2 opportunities at Johns Hopkins University. One that’s for high school students interested in science and engineering and the other is for people interested in clinical research. Searching online on different company websites is one way to see if an apprenticeship is available.
Some websites that list internships/fellowships/apprenticeships are:
- Idealist — a great place to search for jobs/internships worldwide
- Zintellect — you qualify for these internships if you’ve graduated in the last 5 years
- US Apprenticeships — Find local apprenticeship opportunities in the US
- United States Federal Internships — For current students or recent graduates (graduated within the last 2 years)
- Presidential Management Fellowship — For recent graduates with advanced degrees
6. Get Involved In Your Field Online and In-Person (safely)
This advice is a little unconventional because this isn’t necessarily to improve your resume’s experience section. Instead, it is to give you more accolades and credibility within your field and most importantly give you an opportunity to network. These accolades are things you can discuss in your future job interview to help increase your chances of getting the job and can add to other sections on your resume.
Write about your industry
This is a great way to not only stay involved in your chosen field but also to learn and get your name out there. If people in your field are reading your articles, whether it’s on your blog site or in the Huffington Post, you are making yourself an authority in your profession (even if you don’t work in it yet professionally). It always amazes me how important different perspectives are.
Conduct your own research or project
This is similar to the previous point. However, if you are passionate about a topic within your field, do your own project and publish it somewhere. You’d be surprised how impressed your future interviewers will be when you say you’ve done research on your own. It shows that you take initiative and that you are passionate about your field.
Join a group related to your future career
This is a great way to meet people who may work for companies that you’d like to work for and network with them while you make some new friends. You can join a group, on a site like meetup.com, related to your career, or start your own group. Starting your own group will let you have more control over the group if you don’t mind the added responsibility of running it.
Participate in events related to your career
Consider participating in local and online events that utilize skills in your field. Events like hackathons, game jams, contests, and celebratory days, like GIS Day, give you opportunities to improve your skills, but best of all if you win a contest this is a great and unique award to add to your resume!
Whether you are just starting your career or changing it, doing a combination of these tips should help improve your resume’s experience section and prepare it for your next job.
Once your resume is filled with great and relevant work experiences, check out these 5 tips that should help increase your chances of finding and getting a job. I wish you the best of luck with your career endeavors and hope this article was helpful.