Must Have Experience
As a young person trying to get a foothold in the labour market, probably one of the most frustrating requirements to read in a job description is “must have experience in a similar role”.
If everyone wants someone with experience, how are you supposed to get that experience? If you’ve been well established in a particular career path for many years, and are looking to change direction, or you find yourself retrenched and need to look for something new to do, how do you know whether you’ll enjoy a different field if you’ve never worked in it before?
Luckily, there are a number of paths to gain that valuable experience and make yourself more attractive and marketable to potential employers.
Volunteering can be a fantastic way to gain experience, learn new skills, fill in gaps on your resume, and build relationships and networks. In some cases it may even lead to a job offer. While it may seem as though volunteering is using valuable time that you could be using to look for a job, there are many benefits to it that will help you gain employment. Aside from the benefits to your skills set and resume, you are also doing something that will improve the lives of others in your community. Volunteering shows a potential employer that you’re willing to take initiative, that you are committed and community-minded, and that you’re willing to step up and help out when needed.
In Geelong, Volunteering Geelong provides a referral service for volunteers who are looking for volunteer roles, as well as organisations looking for volunteers. You can check out what they currently have on offer at www.volunteeringgeelong.org.au
Internships are generally designed for students at university, and provide an opportunity to gain experience in the industry they wish to work in, and convert theoretical knowledge into a practical workplace scenario. The benefits of undertaking an internship are very similar to volunteering – it looks good on your resume, it helps you to build relationships and connections in the industry you want to work in, and it may also lead to a job offer. Generally, your higher education provider arranges internships but some may be advertised externally. Grad Connection provides a centralised site for all graduate programs and internships across Australia: https://au.gradconnection.com
This is not work experience of the variety you would have most likely participated in at high school, where all you seemed to do was filing and getting coffees. Many organisations and businesses these days will offer a structured workplace experience for people looking to learn more about a business or industry that they are interested in pursuing a career in. The Geelong Region LLEN has recognised this need, and in response set up Experience for Work (www.experienceforwork.com.au). The site lists any unpaid experiences or projects that can help you gain skills and ‘test out’ whether you like a particular job or industry. The idea behind Experience for Work is to provide retrenched workers and careers seekers of all ages with an inspiring ‘immersion experience’, which will expose them to new skills, new understandings and others successful career stories to help them on their career journey.
Opportunities for gaining experience abound, if you know where to look for them. By gaining experience, even if it means working without getting paid, you are demonstrating to potential employers your commitment, initiative, willingness to learn and you never know – you may end up with a job out of it.
For more information about Experience for Work, or if you can offer a job seeker an immersion experience, contact: