How to Get Experience

When first starting out in a new career, there is a common dilemma. You need experience in order to get the job… however, you can’t get that experience until you actually have the job. What do you do?

The answer is to find ways to gain the experience you need through alternative avenues. Some ideas are:

1. Volunteer — Even if you have to work full-time and volunteer a couple hours a week, this is a valuable way to gain experience. A willingness to volunteer your time toward learning a job also shows a future employer your commitment.

2. Non-profit Work – Often non-profits will hire you at half the market rate with little experience. They are eager to get people, so they tend to be less picky about a resume. It might not be what you hope to make long term, but it can be a great way to make a little money and gain the experience you need.

3. Education – In some professions, classes and education will qualify for years of experience. Look into the offerings at a local community college. Some places even offer on-the-job educational classes.

4. Government programs – Some communities offer special programs to help workers find the experience they need to land a job. Check with your local unemployment office or employment assistance department.

5. Network – Whom do you know? Do you have any friends, family or previous co-workers who know your work ethic? Sometimes you can gain the opportunity for a job without much experience by relying on your reputation.

6. Negotiate – Try to get the job you want anyway… however, clearly show your dedication to the profession and respect for your lack of experience in your negotiation. Offer up some ways for an employer to give you a shot, with some benefits. For example, offer to work for 80% of your pay for the first 90 days until you prove yourself. Alternatively, offer to take classes while you are employed. Think about what ways you can sell yourself in order to encourage a company to take a risk on someone with little experience.

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