Gaining Job Experience Without a Job

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One common question that we get when meeting with students is, “How am I supposed to get a job without experience, when every company requires that I have experience in my field?”  It’s a frustrating dilemma that can discourage people from finding that perfect job.

The job search process can be intimidating, but finding the right job without experience is not impossible.  Here are a few tips to gaining job experience before you land a job.

Internships

Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door with any company.  50% of NYIT interns are offered full-time positions upon graduation.  Whether the internship is paid or unpaid, interns have the opportunity to show their skills and establish a foundation for their career.

For companies, offering internships is a great way to evaluate potential employees at little (or no) cost.  It allows them to familiarize young talent with their business, services, and organization while determining if they want to offer them full-time positions.

The Vault is a notable resource for finding some of the best internships out there.  They surveyed current and former interns about their internship experience and were able to produce the Vault’s 50 Best Internships for 2017 report last year.

Volunteering

As a volunteer, you would be working without being paid and…wait, so what’s the difference between an intern and a volunteer?

An internship can be something you choose to do to develop the skills and experience in a specific profession.  As a volunteer, you can also do that, but it’s more about contributing to a cause.  For example, you may volunteer your skills as a graphic designer with a non-profit organization but may also be asked to help with  an event or with conducting outreach.  Volunteers typically help out wherever they are needed even if it is outside of their specified role.

Volunteering is still valuable and relevant experience that can provide you with great networking opportunities, even if the organization is not directly related to your industry.   Idealist is a great resource for searching nonprofit and volunteering opportunities.

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Networking

Networking is one of the most important skills in finding career opportunities.  In 2016, Lou Adler, CEO of a consulting and training firm specializing in hiring, conducted a survey that revealed 85% of all jobs are filled via networking.

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That figure is significant and emphasizes how critical effective networking can be, especially when you consider how much time is spent on searching for jobs, applying, and interviewing.

Students often ask, “Where and how can I improve my network?”  Networking goes beyond asking for someone’s business card.  It’s about making connections and building relationships.

You can build your network by:

  • Participating in conferences and speaking with industry experts
  • Attending special events and industry functions
  • Joining professional organizations via LinkedIn
  • Sharing ideas with friends and peers

Networking is free, takes hard work and communication, and enables you to build a community that can lead to future opportunities.

Freelancing

Consider giving yourself experience by working on your own. Freelancing is great for a variety of reasons.  It allows you to earn money while you seek full-time employment, and you can always continue freelancing for extra money once you find full-time employment.

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So where do you start?

First, decide on what viable skills you have, whether it’s in your field of study or a talent outside of your major area of focus.

Second, compile a portfolio or basic website to market your skills.

Third, start looking for clients.

But isn’t that the same as finding an internship or volunteer work?

The answer is yes and no.  You may have to work for little or no money in order to gain this experience and build your client base.  But remember, experience is the most important thing. As your portfolio expands, you’ll be able to pitch your freelance services at your desired rate based on experience and client testimonials.

 

 

 

 

 

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I Keep Getting Rejected!

Looking for a job can be a full-time job in and of itself.  You spend a great deal of time on the search process, applying, and interviewing.

Glassdoor produced a guide that looked at 50 HR and Recruiting Stats that detailed what drives job seekers and employers during the application and offer process, and how difficult it can be to find that perfect match.

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According to their research, there is about a 2% chance one will get a call to interview for a corporate job opening.

It’s hard enough to get an interview sometimes, let alone an offer.  What do you do if you keep coming up short and are unable to land interviews or get offers for your dream job?

Get Feedback

It’s important to learn from each interview and experience.  In some cases, you may already know what the problem was if you had a bad interview, if you were nervous, or if you stumbled on a few questions.

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If you don’t know what the issue is, you can follow-up and ask the interviewer for feedback.  The feedback (positive and negative) can be helpful in your preparation for the next opportunity.  The interviewer may be able to provide feedback on your answers to their questions, if you have the right experience for the positions you’re applying for, or if you lack some form of technical skills.  Whatever the reason is, if you know what the issue is, there is an opportunity to adjust and prepare for the next interview.

Keep Calm & Network

The job market is often a numbers game when it comes to applying and getting interviews.  You may have years of experience along with a great education, but the phone isn’t ringing.  Most employers and recruiters are reviewing dozens of resumes on a daily basis.

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In order to separate yourself from the pack, take advantage of opportunities to put yourself face–to-face with people in the industry.   Attend industry networking functions where you can meet prospective employers or professionals who can put you in contact with hiring managers.

Uncubed holds career events that emphasize building a community for people to learn, interact, and exchange ideas.

Networking doesn’t end once you leave an event.  It continues with the sharing of ideas and information with other job seekers, fellow classmates, and other professionals you may meet.  By expanding your network, you can increase your job opportunities.

Improve Your Skills

Technical skills can be a deciding factor when it comes to the job search process.  Some employers may not have the time or resources to train new hires on different programming languages or software that is necessary for them to do their job.

Whether you have experience with different applications and software or just want to improve your proficiency, it would be beneficial to take a class as you’re waiting for that interview or job offer.

The Muse compiled an extensive list of free classes to help boost your skills ranging from SEO training to getting a quick review of Google Docs.  This list of free online classes can be found here.

Take a Break!

You’ve applied to jobs every day.  You’ve gone on several interviews.  You’ve earned the right to take a break and recharge.  It can get pretty stagnant as you go through your daily routine of searching jobs on LinkedIn and other job boards, applying, and hearing nothing back in return.

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Relax a bit and go see that movie that just came out or catch up with a friend over lunch.  Check out the free activities in your city and go to a museum or get out and exercise.

Whatever it is, once you take a few days off and recharge, you will feel better about continuing with the job search process.

Stay positive, move on, and keep trying.  The right opportunity is not far away.