How Can I Gain Experience When You Won’t Hire Me In The First Place?

Julie Shenkman
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It’s a vicious cycle and a common complaint we unfortunately hear from many frustrated candidates, “How do I get experience when employers are only hiring people that already have experience?” It certainly sounds like a Catch-22, so we thought it would be helpful to offer some tips on how to solve this conundrum.

  • Accept an Internship. If you’re starting out in a new field, consider being an intern. Internships aren’t just for college kids anymore—remember when Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson did that movie where they were interns at Google? It’s cool I didn’t see it either. But, there’s a new trend emerging—internships for mature workers (their words not mine). They’re typically targeted towards potential employees that have been out of the workplace for at least two years—perhaps you took time off to raise your kids, went back to school, or you were unfortunately laid off. These opportunities are great resume builders, and who knows—you might get hired full time at the end of the program.
  • Volunteer your time. Knowledge you gain from volunteering is valuable experience you should be bragging about. If you volunteer and the experience is relevant to the type of position you’re aiming towards, it should definitely be on your resume.
  • Take a course. If you gained skills from a course you took—that counts for something. Consider including a “Relevant Skills” or “Relevant Courses” section on your resume. This way recruiters won’t have to scavenge through your resume looking for validation of why you’d be a good fit. They can see immediately that you have the skills to get the job done.
  • Educate yourself. There is now so much information available for free online. We’re not saying this should replace any formal training (I mean, I’m not going to go to a dentist that was educated on YouTube), however there are resources like Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera (just to name a few) that could supplement your experiences and knowledge. Often these kinds of courses offer certificates that are nice things to highlight on your resume as well.

We hope you find these tips helpful. And yes, it is not always easy to volunteer your time or accept an internship that might not be as lucrative as a full time job, but think of these tactics as investments. An internship could lead to a full time job that leads to a wonderfully fulfilling career.


Image Source: Google


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  • David Brown
    David Brown

    And while I'm busy volunteering and should I eat? Pay rent? You know...the very reason I need a job to begin with?

  • Ronald M.
    Ronald M.

    Alma, I empathize with you in your plight. Back in 2009, I left a well paid job in the UK to return to school over here in the US... However, now that I have graduated with an MBA with distinction, mounted up six figures student loan, and have been volunteering at the establishment I want to work at for the past 7 months, and have applied to several positions there, I am yet to gain employment there. I still show up, though sometimes I am given nothing to do as some see me as a threat to their own positions, I will keep going until I can no longer afford to. I have never felt so helpless in all my life...

  • Alma S.
    Alma S.

    These tips are useless. I have done all of these and more, I srill can't find my dream job

  • Kyle P.
    Kyle P.

    If this is aimed at high school students or new college graduates these tips could help.

  • James W.
    James W.

    Totally useless and very bad information. One should never volunteer for slavery. If an employer is unwilling to pay you for your work they have no business being an employer. Do not buy into such lies.

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