It's the biggest chicken and egg conundrum since...well, the chicken and egg;
How can I get the experience if I don't get a job but how do I get the job if I don't have the experience?
Let's think about this for a second, what do hiring managers want to see in an interview?
In any job, there are problems to solve, decisions to be made, people to get along with.
There will be no hand holding.
Hiring Managers need to see that you're independent enough to think for yourself while at the same time, being able to ask for help when needed.
Academic excellence won't solve a crisis, common sense will!
It is the common (!) denominator that gift-wraps our magic three into one beautifully practical package with a tag that tells them;
"I'm the One"
If the only experience you can offer has been from inside the cocoon of your college campus or previous day job, which was about as challenging as watching paint dry, you may be in trouble.
You need to demonstrate that you have been in work type situations which have required you to use common sense, and of course, that you've come out on top!
Lack of experience and being reactive, rather than proactive, about your own development, sends out a signal that maybe you're not quite ready for the demands of the job you're applying for.
The challenge being that the interviewer may be concerned about the risk they're taking by hiring you.
Where's the proof you can do the job?
You need to find experience that'll show that you have the qualities of the perfect employee with a potential for greatness.
You'll demonstrate the value of this experience through examples of how you have used your newly learned skills in various situations, such as;
Decision Making, Problem Solving, Getting Along with Colleagues, Initiative
A Volunteer or Non Profit organization is the ideal environment which can facilitate the necessary learning and practice needed to pave the way for paid employment in your chosen profession.
I emphasize the word "paid" because of course, this is what you are aiming towards, by means of doing non paid work.
This is one of the few times I agree with the use of the Machiavellian principle
"The End Justifies the Means"
3 Reasons Why Volunteering is a Good Thing
- There's less pressure than a paid job as volunteer and non profit organisations are generally grateful for any help you can offer.
Choosing Who to Work With
When choosing an organization to work with, look for one that best matches the skill set you want to develop. These are the skills you see being advertised as part of the criteria or job spec of your dream job.
If one organization doesn't offer opportunities to develop all the skills you require, remember, there's no law against volunteering with more than one organization and this could be a great opportunity to widen your skill set even more.
There will be standard volunteer jobs available and if this suits your needs, go for it!
However, if you feel there are other experience gaps you need to fill, don't be shy about pitching your talents for the greater good of the organization.
If Opportunity Doesn't Knock, Build a Door.
It's all about making a positive difference.
If you're aiming for a role in Marketing, check out their social media presence. Is there a platform they could leverage better? Do they need help managing some of their accounts or maybe you could help with the appearance of their content? Are they missing out on an essential social media hack that could transform their profile and visibility?
Maybe you're a techie looking to develop more practical experience? What does their website look like?
Are there simple tweaks that could send them from good to great?
Or perhaps you have a love for communication and English or another language, is there an opportunity to write copy in the form of a blog, social media post or promotional literature?
Is there some training or proof reading that might help the organization to do its work better?
While the rewards to be gained from these "technical aspects" are substantial, don't let them overshadow the real value, which is working with other people and being part of something.
This is something you'll gain at any level in a volunteer organization.
Great companies are only as strong as the people who work for them and successful teams are those who trust and support each other implicitly.
Being positively exposed to such a concept is the real "holy grail" of this experience and could eventually prove to be the deciding factor for job interview success.
Remember, hiring managers are just people who want to find the best person for the job.
Theory is great but experience is better.
Living and learning through typical work situations and talking through them in an interview is, by far, the best way to impress and convince hiring managers that you're the person they need.
By following the route of volunteering, you are taking your power back, creating your own experiences in an environment you enjoy and helping people in the process, which is the centre of our very being!
As part of my philosophy, when I became an online Career and Business English Coach at Welcome BE, I wanted to empower people to take control of their communication skills, their career and their future. This was the inspiration for the tagline
"Because Language Should Never Be a Barrier to Success"
I also believe that lack of experience shouldn't be a barrier either!
So next time you look at a job ad and think no, I can't do that, I don't have the experience...think again, take your power and create your experience.
"What you do today can improve all your tomorrows"