Getting a job can be difficult, especially if you haven’t spent much time in the workforce. Many job seekers find themselves on a “hamster wheel” of frustration – they can’t get hired because they lack experience, and they can’t gain experience because no one will hire them.
Employment specialists in the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services (DERS) can help even the most inexperienced job seeker market themselves as a desirable hire by following these career tips:
Build Your Résumé
When it comes to your résumé, be creative, but never lie. “Take previous life experiences and apply them to the position you want,” suggests DERS Workforce Supervisor, Danielle Nahass.
How? Consider things you’ve done – clubs, sports, even that summer job babysitting your kid-sister. Have you been a student? If so, you might add ‘listening skills,’ or ‘ability to take direction,’ on your résumé. If you successfully managed a class load that involved multiple school subjects, you might say you possess the ‘ability to multi-task.’ All these life experiences can translate to valuable work skills.
Master Your Soft Skills
While you may not have the work experience, you will have a leg-up on the competition if you have great soft skills. Soft skills are the professional and social qualities that make someone a desirable hire. Many employers say they value these characteristics over hard skills, like academics and field experience, since the hard skills can be learned.
Employers may disregard the lack of work history if they feel confident that a job seeker will be reliable and get along well with others.
Prepare for the Interview
A job interview is usually your first opportunity to make an impression on an employer, so make it a good one! “Make sure you are on time, dress professionally, be polite and introduce yourself,” says Nahass.
The interview is an opportunity to sell yourself, so it’s essential to prepare. Nahass recommends researching the company you want to work for so you can incorporate the organization’s mission and values in your responses. If a company prides themselves on being the fastest tailor in the city, then job seekers may want to talk about their ability to work quickly, and think on their feet.
Another way to tame those first interview jitters is by attending a job fair or hiring event. “We do a lot of hiring events where they [job seekers] can get in front of an employer,” explains Nahass. “Sometimes just getting in front of an employer is the hardest part.”
Volunteering is a great way for job seekers to get their foot in the door. Many employers prefer to hire internally because it reduces training and saves time and money that is otherwise spent on advertising and conducting interviews. Volunteering gives job seekers hands-on experience, while also developing skills to add to their résumé.
Training opportunities are available through DES/ARIZONAatWORK offices throughout the state. Job seekers can go into any workforce office to get help identifying a career that would best suit them. If the career path you choose requires trainings or certifications, you may qualify for financial assistance in covering associated fees through the Arizona Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program.
Become an Apprentice
Apprenticeships are also a great way for job seekers to earn a steady income while learning a trade. Graduates who complete an apprenticeship will be fully trained, certified and experienced to work in career fields such as informational technology (IT), manufacturing, construction, healthcare and much more.
Don’t Give Up
Obtaining your dream job takes time so don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Some of America’s biggest CEOs began their careers in internships or entry level positions. Ursula Burns, Chairman of Xerox and former CEO, began her career with the company as an intern. Top execs recommend saying yes’ to all opportunities that might arise. Workers who are eager to learn and willing to put in the work are the most likely to get promoted.
A lack of work experience is not a dead end. Employment specialists in DERS can help novice job seekers acquire the qualities that employers seek. Please visit our Employment Services page for more information about free workforce services.
For a list of upcoming job fairs, hiring events and workshops, please visit ARIZONA@WORK.
Additional information and tips
How to Create an Effective Resume
A Soft Skills Approach to a Successful Job Interview
Why Dressing Professionally Matters
Arizona Apprenticeship Program List
By Jillian Seamans