How To Gain Experience When You Have None

How To Gain Experience When You Have NoneWe all have to start out somewhere, right? However, many jobs out there require you to have some sort of experience, which is a catch-22 that many people face.

Different times where you might experience this include:

  • You want to apply for an online writing job but you are asked to provide proof of past writing.
  • You just graduated from college and are looking for an entry-level job. However, most of these jobs want experience!
  • You are making a career change and have no experience in that specific field that you are interested in.


Here are different ways to add “experience” to your resume.


Depending on the field that you are looking to get into, there are probably a few non-profits near you that can give you the experience that you are looking for.

For example, if you want to get a finance job at a company after you graduate, you may want to look into volunteering at a non-profit in their finance department. It can be great experience, and you are also working towards a good cause.

Find an internship or a job when you are in college.

I worked full-time when I was in college, and it really helped me when I was applying for jobs after I graduated from college. I started at the bottom at the company (making minimum wage) and worked my way up.

Whether you have a part-time job, full-time job, an internship or whatever, it’s almost always a good idea. It shows to the potential employer that you have good time management skills (since you are balancing multiple things at once) and that you can actually hold a job!

Apply for legitimate free or low-paying jobs.

I am often asked how I started out with my online freelancing and writing career. Well, I had to start out by making nothing. I first created my website, Making Sense of Cents, and worked on it for free for quite some time.

When you are first starting out with online writing, you may have to take a few low-paying jobs, or even guest post on other websites for free. Then, you can show this to future potential clients as proof of your experience.

This applies to many other fields as well. You may have to work for free or a low amount to actually get your foot through the door. The experience you gain from doing this is great as well!

Don’t forget the time you have spent in school.

If you went to college, don’t forget to mention specific classes or organizations that you took part in.

One thing I always made sure to do on my resume was to list out specific related courses that I took. For example, whenever I applied for a finance job, I would write the specific class names that I took that were finance-related.

Also, I would detail my specific roles in college organizations as well. Maybe you were involved in fundraisers (great for non-profit jobs), you managed the social media for your club, you were the leader in a group or something else. All of this looks great on a resume, so don’t think it doesn’t count – because it does!

Don’t forget about past jobs that you’ve had. 

If you have had other jobs in the past, then you need to see if there are any similarities between that past job and the job that you want.

Then, on your resume you need to specifically put those job functions on there so that the hiring manager can see how your past experience relates to the job opening.

What have you done to gain experience when you have none?


Image via Flickr by mrsdkrebs



How To Gain Experience When You Have None — 22 Comments

  1. When I decided I wanted to become a staff writer the first thing I did was guest post on as many popular blogs as I could. Then when I inquired about writing positions I would say I’ve been featured on several popular blogs and would link to a page where I had compiled that list. It worked wonders!

  2. Internships are a must. Companies love to see that you have interned somewhere.Some internships can lead to full time employment with that company.

  3. Pingback: How To Gain Experience When You Have None | Making Sense Of Cents

  4. I know my internship really helped me a lot when I applied for my first job after I graduated. The company offered with a very low rate but with no hesitation, I gladly accepted it, for me it was just my stepping stone to have a brighter career.

  5. you forgot another – talk talk talk!

    Just yesterday I was at the crisis center where I volunteer and met a new volunteer I hadn’t seen before – well, turns out she’s planning on law school, has her bachelor’s already.

    She’s already exploring – volunteering with a moderating organization as that’s something that appeals to her/

    Within 24 hours I’ve got her resume and will help her find some attorneys to shadow that are in her fields of interest.

    But I meet new people there all the time, and if she hadn’t spoken up she’d never have had my help, only my friendship

  6. Great post! I second the point about having a job while you’re in college. Some of my friends did co-op programs (semester of school, semester of work with good pay, repeat) and ended up with almost 2 years work experience in their field when they graduated.

    As a former editor, I’d advise that if you have to write for free, do it for a place with discerning editors. There are plenty of places where you can self-publish, but they don’t hold as much weight as a reputable blog or publication.

  7. My friend and I were just discussing this last night as his friend is planning on going back to school for accounting and was concerned about taking all the classes and getting the degree but not being able to find a job in it. There are many low/entry-level accounting jobs at pretty much every company, though, so if you realize that you may have to get paid relatively little to gain that initial experience it starts to become much easier to find places that will get you the experience you need to compliment your education.

    • Yes! I know so many people who think that they will instantly find a well-paying job even though they have no experience. Sometimes you have to take a lower-paying job because of the experience that it offers.

  8. Volunteering is such a great idea! A lot of writers forget that this is an option for them too — there are lots of non-profits and arts organizations out there that need help with their websites, blogs, and email marketing. Not only does it help you build your portfolio, but it’s a great way to give back to your community!

  9. Volunteering, or even starting your own side gig is a great one. Land a small gig, as a first time venture. Only charge when delivery of the product is accepted.

    And Network as much as you can, to get your foot in the door.

  10. I literally begged for a job. It was a job I had zero experience with but knew I was more than capable. I went in and basically begged fot it in a very “overly confident you won’t regret your decision” sort of way and it worked!

  11. Great advice! I’m in search of my first full-time job after college and have been trying to keep all these points in mind. It’s true that there are plenty of places that are happy to take free work, such as writing, but they’re not all quality publications. Also, as everyone said, internships can be great. Mine helped.

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