You’re probably familiar with the phrase: "You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job." This impossible riddle is frustrating to promising candidates who are trying their best to break into the workforce.
Obviously, everyone has to start somewhere. People don’t pop into the workforce with 10 years of related experience in every field. It’s possible to find workarounds if you’re clever and willing to extend yourself a little further. If you’re not looking for a minimum wage starter job, you’ll be able to find great entry-level opportunities in the fields you care about by working hard & going the extra mile.
Look for Internships
An internship won’t always pay you, but it will provide you with relevant experience.
The good thing about internships is that they exist solely for people who need job experience. They can also lead to paid positions, so if you enjoy the work you do during that time, there’s always the chance that you can actually start making money. Try browsing internship sites for entry-level roles, and they can help you maximize your job hunt.
Create your Own Job
This won’t apply to everyone, but consider creating a freelance portfolio if it’s relevant to your desired field. Offering your services online at a discounted rate to have something to show potential employers is never a bad idea. Even if you can’t connect with clients, you can still create mock projects for a virtual portfolio. Provide a link on your resume to showcase your work. Use sites like Upwork or Fiverr to create a profile on and court potential clients. Or perhaps your own personal website would be a good alternative. Today's job market demands that job seekers brand themselves well.
Always Be Learning
This doesn’t always mean going back to college. Have you considered expanding your educational experience through simpler means? If you don’t need a degree, try online courses like those on Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. Take refresher classes. Go to relevant seminars that offer a certificate of completion. This can help you expand your knowledge base to meet requirements set forth by picky employers, and it also demonstrates your level of commitment.
Many companies have strong values in terms of the charities they support. Volunteer work always translates well on a resume. Get involved in community events. Find outreach programs, and see what you can do on the ground to help people out. In a lot of ways, volunteering is similar to a job. If you go this route, you also benefit from gaining job references through the volunteer organization.
In some cases, the way you present yourself in an interview can mean just as much, if not more, than what your resume says about you. Never act as though you’re already above the job. Be confident, and be prepared to discuss your personal strengths. Dress well, research the company, and look into their culture. Acknowledge that you don’t have the proper experience and that your lack of experience won’t get in your way. Play smart, and always be prepared.
Finding a job is a job in itself these days, so the more work you put into it, the more confidence you will gain. Creativity, ambition, and motivation are cultivated when you’re attempting to make yourself. Even if you don’t get the first job you set your sights on, you’ll become stronger in the areas of innovative thinking and interview confidence. Draw upon your past military jobs and apply as much as possible to your civilian role. Today's employers appreciate veterans' work ethics and discipline. Use it to your advantage.
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