How many times do we fail to apply for jobs after looking at the experience section of the job advertisement? In many cases, the advertiser asks for 2 years and more work experience that the average graduate does not have. Even for those that have worked for a few years after college or university it is not always straightforward. Experience is an employer’s way of saying that they do not want to baby-sit a new hire. However, there are solutions to this problem. This is how you can get your years of experience without a formal job;
Sharpen your Skills
Entry level jobs usually major on qualifications and transferable skills. Skills required in entry level jobs are among other;
- Communication skills
- Customer service
- Writing (Business English)
- Microsoft office
- Teamwork dynamics
- Telephone and email skills
- English (Written and Oral)
- Organizational skills
The list above is not exhaustive. Sometimes different companies require a unique set of skills. Constantly work to improve these skills as they will give you an edge above the other applicants. Some organizations provide paid or free training workshops to sharpen such skills. Look for such training sessions and join where you can to improve your soft skills.
Use of Technology
One of the things that the 21st Century has done is to break down the traditional workplace into a fluid zone. This fluidity has brought about work from home opportunities that are open to anyone across the globe. People who do these kinds of jobs are freelancers. A freelancer is a person that has a specific skill set such as graphic design or website creation. With these skills, they go about searching for work from sites that link contractors and those looking for work. After looking through various jobs, they pick the one they believe they can do best and pitch their services to the employer. These jobs can boost one’s work experience because – although short contracts – they give the freelancer the chance to work on real time projects that have timelines, deliverables and set objectives. These skills will be necessary in future opportunities. To explore the full potential of this strategy one should take up positions in the field of work they seek to be in. Thus on a CV the person is better placed when they write about their various short contracts performing similar tasks.
Explore Volunteer opportunities
A tried and tested way to gain experience is by volunteering. As a volunteer, you get a chance to be in the center of the organization without being an additional business expense. A common misconception is that volunteer opportunities should only be in large blue chip firms. This is untrue as the places that are most in need are small and medium enterprises (SME’s) and community based organizations (CBO’s). The advantages that come with working with these types of organizations is that one gains experience of a formal working environment and learns transferrable skills. Transferable skills are the essential skills that you carry with you through different jobs and even careers. They include interpersonal skills, communication, adaptability, attention to detail, creativity among others. Additionally working with a smaller group gives freedom to express one self. It is possible to find the volunteer contributing to strategy creation, problem solving and often giving creative input. In some cases volunteer opportunities end up becoming employment when the organization decides to keep you.
Venture into Entrepreneurship
Often times this category is not relatable because one chooses either one or the other. However, it is possible to have been a business owner and later or consequently a successful employee. Especially for those in business related fields of study how better to show your ability than to have a successful business. Successful in this case does not mean a turnover of Kshs. 5,000,000, far from it. It simply means a business that can sustain itself and that allows you to gain practical skills. These can include how to write proposals, make sales, ensure customer satisfaction and deliver products/services. Designing and selling jewelry to fellow students at university demonstrates several of the mentioned skills that every employer looks for.
The one thing many people forget is that differentiation is what sets apart the eternal job seeker and the person that lands their dream job in three to six months. To be different one must think and act differently. A step towards a new direction today will result in a new result; resolve to do something different.
Remember that simply because they say you might not get the job without experience, it doesn’t mean you cannot get the experience without the job. You have to be proactive. Go out there and look for internship, mentorship, short contracts and volunteering opportunities when no job opportunity is forthcoming. The more you work on your skills, the better and sharper they become.
Make connections and learn more about your industry. Connections will help you get the information you need about training workshops, industry updates, new job updates and other career-worthy information.