Beating the Catch 22: How to get work experience when you don’t have any

It’s a dilemma faced by jobseekers, particularly younger jobseekers, up and down the country: how do you get a job without previous experience and how do you get experience without a job?

This is a challenge for jobseekers in almost every industry and is an incredibly frustrating Catch 22 for those who are just starting out.

So how do you beat it? It’s time to think outside the box and look at other ways of demonstrating your capabilities in a real-world environment.

Think extra-curricular

Whether you’re back at college, still at university or currently job hunting, getting involved with some extra-curricular activities will look great on your CV.

This could be anything from getting involved with a society at university, to joining a local sports team, to signing up to a community group. Not only will you gain employer-friendly experience – organisational skills, teamwork, communication, to name but a few – but you’ll also have access to a network of likeminded and potentially helpful people.

Interested in a career in film or TV? Get involved with the filmmaking society at university; you never know, you might be rubbing shoulders with people who can open doors for you in the future.

Get involved at your former college

Giving up your time to help a good cause always looks fantastic on a CV and gives you the chance to show off your employable skills in a real-world environment. And where better to do this than at your former college?

We’re always looking for former students to come back and help shape our current students’ futures, so it’s a win-win situation!

It’s up to you how you get involved; it can be as simple as helping out an open event and speaking to guests about your college experience, or returning to the classroom and speaking to students about your journey since leaving college. However you get involved, you’ll be able to prove your hard work and commitment to employers.

Click here to find out more about getting involved at your former college

Use your connections

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and while this may be a slight over-simplification it certainly doesn’t hurt to make the most of the people you know.

If you have a family member or family friend working in an industry you’re interested in, why not see if they can arrange some work experience for you? Even if it’s just for a week or two, the experience will look great on your CV and could even turn into a permanent position.

Don’t know anyone in the industry you’re interested in? Try writing to relevant companies to enquire about work experience opportunities – there’s no harm in asking!

There’s never an easy way into a career, but these tips should help you on the road to success. Speak to our careers team for more advice on getting where you want to be.