How To Get A Job With No Work Experience

So how do you get a job when every job seems to call for experience? In a word, hustle. Sure, you can sit at home and keep on applying for jobs, and moaning about not getting an interview. But, most jobs are never advertised, and getting proactive is a much more successful way to get a job. Most job hunters wait to see a job advertised, get in front of the competition and go looking for the role before it's advertised.

Job hunt

If you are unemployed then you really should be spending 6-8 hours a day looking for a job. Put in the effort, and there are definitely jobs to be had.

Present Yourself Well

First, take a long hard look in the mirror. I don't mean that you need to have a trendy haircut and new clothes. I do mean that depending on what job and industry you want to work in you probably need to look neat and tidy. At the risk of not being politically correct, a whole lot of visible tattoos and piercings are going to put some employers off, particularly in customer-facing roles or where hygiene is important e.g. kitchens.

If you're older, make sure your clothes aren't stuck back in the 90's! You don't need a new whole wardrobe, but one decent outfit, particularly for office work, is important. Tidy up your hair, and don't over-do the makeup.

The next step sounds trite, but body language is important. Make sure you routinely make eye contact, having a nice handshake and a friendly smile, goes a long way. If you are nervous or tend to mumble, practice. Yes, standing in front of the bathroom mirror practicing sounds stupid, but it's not. The more you do it the easier it will get too.

Then there is the CV. Take some time over it. Moreover, don't just list jobs you've done or courses you've passed. Employers want to know about your skills. You may not have any formal job experience, that doesn’t mean you don't have useful skills. What about that babysitting job you had for years? Or the semester you volunteered in school's library? Write it all down. If you've had leadership roles in sports or cultural groups, write them down.

Kiwis find it hard to promote ourselves, but this is the time to get over that, and really think about what you offer an employer and then sell those skills. Think about it from the employer's point-of-view. They need to be able to see you fitting in well with their existing staff and clients.

Network, Network, Network

You've probably heard the line "it's not what you know, but who you know" - well it's true. I got my very first job because my mother and the then Personnel Manager at Wellington's iconic department store, Kirks were life-long friends. It's not cool, but really if you are a teenager looking for your first job, tell your parent's friends. You probably don't even realise that some of them are in position to employ people like you.

Many jobs aren't advertised. Particularly when unemployment is high, small companies don't like advertising because they know thy will be inundated with applicants. Bigger firms will advertise, but smaller firms, which are most of New Zealand's employers, may very well not.

Reach out and tell people you need a job. Call up firms, send emails, put it out on Facebook.


There is always a demand for volunteers in the community. If you are interested in anything to do with working with children, the elderly, or animals, there are always plenty of volunteer options available. Want a job in tourism? Volunteer at your local museum or other tourist attraction. Pet shelters always need help. Charities need volunteers for street collections. Op shops need assistants.

Most volunteer roles won't led to job directly, but they may very well see you add valuable skills to your CV, and could also get you an important reference. Plus it will be less boring than sitting at home wishing you had a job!


Unpaid internships have been common in the US for many years, and are now starting to catch on in New Zealand. You are either not paid, or paid a very nominal amount, to "learn the ropes". Probably most common in politics and advertising, it's worth following up on if you are interested in these careers. Be careful though that you're not being exploited – working in a restaurant unpaid is not an internship, it's a rip-off!

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Don't sit at home complaining that you can't get your dream job. Dream jobs aren't that common. They are almost never your first job. Depending on your circumstance, you may just have to take any job, to get some experience and some cash. Then look around and take a step up.

You may want a full-time job, but only part-time or temporary contract work is available. Take it, particularly if i's in the area you want to work in. Many a part-time role has turned full-time. Contract work is often to fill gap, but can lead on to much longer contract. I've heard of 6-month contracts that lasted over 3 years!

Work At It

Looking for a job can take as much time as having one. You need to plan and setup yourself some mini-goals. Every day sit down and do some of the following:

  • Call someone who may be hiring
  • Apply for a job you see advertised
  • Apply for a volunteer position which may help your CV
  • Follow up on job leads from social media and elsewhere

It's a numbers game. There are jobs, even for the inexperienced, but you need to go out and find them, they won't come looking for you!