How to get experience with no experience

You’ve spotted an ad for the job of your dreams, but just as you’re about jump into the application process you notice a small roadblock … you don’t really have the experience specified for the role. Before you throw in the towel on your new career before it’s even started, why not think a little laterally?

Volunteering in your ideal industry could be the answer to boosting your practical skills, building your networks, and meeting the criteria for that next golden job opportunity.

Volunteering can be your answer to upskilling

Feel like you need to strengthen the experience section of your CV? SEEK Volunteer Manager Amanda Robinson suggests looking for volunteering roles in the field of work you’re looking to move into, where you can perfect new skills.

“Opportunities that demonstrate your leadership or project management skills are great for developing those skills and are viewed favourably by employers,” Amanda explains.

As not-for-profits get the benefit of professional support from volunteers, you’ll also be contributing to the community while simultaneously honing your skills and building up your CV.

How to get experience through volunteeting

Leverage unpaid experience into a career

Melinda Kenny was working in advertising when she was asked to write an article about food-rescue charity SecondBite, and soon became inspired by their social and environmental impact. She got in contact via their website and before long she was volunteering once a week.

“I’d never worked with people who cared so much about what they did and the difference they were making,” Melinda explains. “There’s a great feeling of community when people work together to do something beyond their own agendas. It reminds me that people are good; that most people are there for each other when times get tough.”

After six months of volunteering, Melinda realised she wanted to leave advertising for a role she found more fulfilling. She took the plunge and left her job without another to go to and started volunteering more regularly, all the time thinking about what was important for her in a new role.

During this time, Melinda had the opportunity to support SecondBite’s major partner, Coles, in their annual fundraising month. This is how she discovered a vacancy at Coles for a Community Engagement Manager. Her newfound skill set and networking opportunities helped her find, and secure, the very job she was looking for.

“My new role at Coles uses the project management skills I learned in advertising combined with the program knowledge I gained while volunteering … Without volunteering, I would not have had the experience and insight to succeed in this role,” Melinda says.

Complement your studies and impress hirers

As Amanda explains, volunteering is a great way to add to the skills you may be gaining in your studies and build on what you’re learning out in the real world.

“Volunteering can give you actual real-life experience in your chosen field to help put course theory in to practice,” she says.

This self-motivated learning will also go a long way to impress your future employer by showing your altruism as well as your ingenuity.

“You’re showing commitment to your chosen career path by seeking out opportunities in that field, be it paid or unpaid work,” Amanda says.

For Melinda, volunteering one day a week helped her not only discover new skills, but also led to a career she is passionate about, and one which continually inspires her.

“I would definitely recommend volunteering as a way to get experience but also as a way to give something back.”

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