When you've never had a job, it can feel like finding one is next to impossible — especially since almost every job board is filled with those "must have experience" kind of postings. How, exactly, are you supposed to get that experience?
Frustrating, right? No worries. You have more going for you than you think. You just have to find the right way to show it.
What "experience" means when you've never had a job.
You're not going after any management or upper-level positions right out of the gate. You don't need to have that kind of experience on your resume. When you've never had a job, the kind of work you want to look for is an entry-level position. Internships (paid, ideally!) are an excellent place to start as well. These are where you'll start building your professional experience and begin working up to upper level.
Right now, what you need to focus on is life experiences: what you studied, where you volunteered and for how long, what extracurriculars you participated in and what your hobbies and passions are. Unpaid internships that gave you experience relevant to the position you're applying for are also something to make note of.
You need to show where your passion lies and relate that interest and personal experience to the job you're going after. Tailor what you show about yourself to the job description.
For example, being well-versed in the newest coding programs, thanks to either a college course or your own personal interest in building websites, is absolutely something you need to put on your resume when applying for tech-oriented positions. Applying to a position in a health or wellness field? Make sure to note that you volunteered for a few years in a nursing home or other healthcare facility.
The thing you need to do is find a way to show yourself, your relevant interests and experience in a way that says, "Pick me! I'm ready to start growing as a professional."
What hiring managers look for.
In short, they're looking for skills, enthusiasm, initiative and work ethic. Hiring managers looking to fill entry-level positions want to see candidates who really want the job, are knowledgeable about any actual systems or programs you'll be using and understand what kind of investment that job entails. So, if you're applying for a job in a fast-paced industry, show that you understand the level of investment that job will require. If the position is for a company in a tech-related industry, show that you truly understand the actual tech.
Once you land an interview, be ready to present yourself as someone new to the workforce, yes, but with a solid base of understanding and an eagerness to start building your career. There are plenty of hiring managers willing to take a chance on a newbie. Show that you deserve to be that newbie.
It's never too soon to network.
Spend time building a strong resume and writing a solid cover letter for each position to which you apply. Do your due diligence and become well-versed in the landscape of the industry each company inhabits for an extra leg up.
Building a LinkedIn profile will up both your research and your networking games. If your heart is really set on a particular field or industry, LinkedIn is a good way to find and then attend networking events, conferences, courses and any other gatherings of industry professionals near you. It doesn't hurt to become a known face among some key movers and shakers. And since word of mouth is still a way many people learn about open positions, you might very well land your first job just by continuing to show up and chitchatting with the right folks.
As a new job seeker, be hungry enough to learn all there is to know and start knocking on doors. As someone who needs to eat and pay some bills, however, it also pays to be flexible and realistic. The first job you get won't be your last, and it certainly doesn't determine the course of your career path. Just because your dream job isn't available to you right now doesn't mean you can't find opportunities in that field or area of expertise and begin to grow in that direction. Stay focused and stay positive. The purpose of finding a job when you've never had one is just to get started. This first job is only the beginning.