Finding a job can be daunting, more so if you have never worked before. Unfortunately, many women, despite having a good education and advanced degrees, are not economically independent. Women, in many societies never get a chance to have a career for various reasons. Sometimes they opt to stay out of the workforce for raising children. Sometimes, they lack the proper opprtunity or resources to start a career. In this post, I have shared some vital tips on how to get a job if you have never worked before.
Sometimes, getting back to the regular workforce after a long career break is also quite challenging. If you are planning to go back to the workforce after a maternity break, please check out these resources for moms reentering the workforce.
If you are not in a situation, or not interested in getting back to work full-time but looking out for options for working from home online, please read this post for some wonderful ideas on work from home online.
Getting a job with no or little experience is always difficult, but not impossible if you really want it.
1. Believe in yourself
Around nine years back when I was thinking of starting my career, I did not have any prior work experience. I graduated from university quite a few years back but had to stay away from the workforce because of some personal commitments.
I still remember some suggestions from my friends and well-wishers. Many of them felt I would end up doing some small jobs, and would never be able to have a proper career. Most of them told me ‘there is so much competition and such a huge unemployment rate, how do you expect to get a decent job as you never worked before?’
I was aware of my limitations, but never stopped trying and believed in my abilities. My Linkedin profile today would vouch for the fact that I did the correct thing by listening to my heart. I am not a genius, but always believed in this line by Paolo Cohelo “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Unless you believe that you can do it, you will probably never be able to do it.
Just because no one else has done something, does not mean that you will not be able to do it.
There is no proven formula to getting a job, and despite doing everything correctly, it might take a very long time for you to land a job. This phase might seem very hard, trying, and frustrating. Rejections could be hard on your mental health. Make sure you never give up on what you really want and try to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Having friends and family who cares for you is very important during this time.
Some people get a lot of benefits from reading inspirational books and watching motivational videos to keep them motivated and on track. My personal favorite inspirational and motivational books are Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, The Secret, and The Magic. Read this article for a lot of information about the benefits of positive affirmation, as well as some recommended books, audio, and videos to make positive affirmation a part of your daily routine.
2. Do Not be too choosy about any specific field- keep all the options open
If you have professional and advanced degrees, you may want to get a job in your own field. But with so high competition in the job markets, don’t get disheartened if you are not getting an opportunity in your chosen or preferred fields.
In the process of narrowing down the fields, you may potentially be reducing your chances of getting hired by companies working in other areas. Keep all the options open by applying to diverse jobs in different fields.
When you are looking for a job but have never worked before, it is very important to get your hands dirty by starting with whatever opportunities you get. Being able to go out, gaining some experiences, and making your presence felt is really pivotal at this stage. The salary, position, profile of the company, or the industry come secondary.
Get some experience, work hard and sincerely, and master new skills. Be ready to be positive about everything you do, start loving it, and enjoy it. Once you have gained some experience, you would gradually be in a place to assess where you want to go next from there.
Make sure to be patient, whichever route you choose, it will most likely take a few years till you can have a really successful career.
3. Refresh your skills and knowledge – get certified or join a course
When you have a long career gap or never worked before, going back to school for any certifications, professional courses or diplomas are good options. You may join any part-time or online programs or do any certification to upgrade yourself.
Most of the online or part-time programs do not have any placement guarantees, but they are legitimate ways to upgrade and refresh your skills and knowledge. Depending on your interest and educational background, there could be hundreds of short term programs or certification programs to choose from
Pros: You are more confident. Your resume looks better. You have better chances of selling yourself in the job market.
Cons: Even with certification, employers might prefer someone with experience. Be ready to face that.
4. Sign up for volunteering, internship, and freelancing
Once you are in a position to figure out what type of work you are looking forward to doing, look out for volunteering or free internship experience. Volunteering is a wonderful way to develop valuable skills along with gain new experiences.
When you don’t have any previous experiences to show on your resume, meaningful volunteering or internship experiences would definitely add a lot of value to your resume. Freelancing is another legitimate way of gaining experience. As you are working towards your full-time career to take off, register yourself for some of the freelancing jobs.
A combination of volunteering or freelancing experience and any certificate or diploma would definitely give your resume and your confidence a huge boost.
You would also develop a lot of contacts and may potentially develop a good professional network through volunteering. Some organizations also hire interns or volunteers for permanent positions.
5. Networking is the key to new opportunities
Work on building a robust professional network. Connect and engage with people on professional social media like LinkedIn. Join some relevant groups in your area or niche. You can also join different groups of professionals on Facebook or Twitter. The professional networking groups can help you to:
- Connect with professionals from different fields and areas of work
- View job postings, seminars, events, and job fairs
- Connect with several recruiters and Human Resource professionals from different companies
Attend job fairs, seminars, and professional events to increase your networking opportunities. You never know whom would you get in touch with in a meeting. Don’t miss any opportunity to meet new people who could potentially help or guide you in a new career direction, especially if you are looking for a job but never worked before.
6. Use your personal contacts
The very first job I got was not through any job agency or online job board but through a friend. It was in a very small start-up that was looking for someone as an administrative assistant. They were a very small organization in the incubation phase. They preferred to hire someone from their personal contacts, rather than going through the hassles of advertising on job boards or newspapers. I got to know about this opening from a friend and eventually got hired, which changed my entire life.
When you are trying to dive deep into the job market but have never worked before or your resume doesn’t look like the typical resume for that field, it may easily be overlooked or rejected. Personal recommendations may be more helpful than traditional methods of job application, in this situation. Use your personal network – friends, family, neighbors, and ex-coworkers to help you find a position.
7. Find a Mentor
Having an experienced and supportive mentor can make a huge difference in your job search. A mentor can help you identify the type of job you should be looking for, and the companies you should apply to, as well as can provide advice on your resume, and cover letter, and help prepare for an interview. A mentor can also help you identify potential employers who are looking for someone like you. A good mentor should also be available for providing mental support and keep you motivated during the job search. So if you are looking for a job or want to improve your skills, consider asking for a mentor’s help. Reach out to your professional network to see if someone would be willing to mentor you. You can also consider asking a friend or family member if they know someone who can be your mentor.
8. Make sure your resume reflects the real you
Be honest and authentic when you are writing your resume and cover letters. Don’t forget to briefly highlight why having a career is important to you.
There are millions of people in the job market. Your resume should speak out for you and it should stand out. You should not be just another person looking for a job without never having worked before. Your resume should tell a story about yourself. It should also reflect your passion to follow your dreams.
Don’t miss to highlight:
- Why you want to pursue a career and why having a career is important to you.
- How do you want to learn and grow.
- All your skills and strengths. Market any skills you’ve developed, not necessarily from a traditional job but in any other area of life.
If you are looking for some invaluable tips on how to make your resume stand out, please read this post on how to get your resume seen.
It’s very important for women to be economically independent. Don’t hesitate to aspire to get a job even if you’ve never worked before. Worldwide, there is a huge gender gap in economic opportunities and participation. Based on a report by the World Economic Forum, it will take more than 250 years to bridge the existing gender gap in economic contribution. You got this!