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How to Join the Workforce When You’re Short on Experience

If you’ve just graduated from high school or university, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your teachers and people you’ve met on projects or internships for future references. Get comfortable with letting people know you’re looking for work, because all kinds of people may know of open job opportunities.
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The pandemic has changed our work habits forever. Many people are now able to work from home, which suits a lot of us well, while others are choosing to return to offices and other job sites. All of this flexibility is enticing, and many great companies are hiring. But if you’re just entering the workforce, or are returning to work after being a parent, for example, how can you take advantage of the new workplace reality when you’re short on experience? We have a few ideas lined up to help you find the job you want, with some tips to help you get ahead, no matter what position you’re looking for!

Practice Interviewing and Networking

Whether you’re just entering the workforce now, or returning after an absence, networking is an essential part of your job search. If you’ve just graduated from high school or university, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your teachers and people you’ve met on projects or internships for future references. Get comfortable with letting people know you’re looking for work, because all kinds of people may know of open job opportunities. Teachers can be a good resource for future letters and references. If you haven’t had a job interview for a while—or for ever—it’s ok to feel intimidated! Practice interviewing with your friends. They will help you get more comfortable, and can give you pointers and helpful feedback. 

If you’re just coming back into the workforce, let everyone in your network know you’re back again and looking for a job. Consider networking with previous employers and co-workers. Get your family, friends, and places you’ve volunteered for involved. You never know what other people may hear and know about great job opportunities.

Know Your Passions

Before you enter the workforce for the first time, it’s crucial to understand what your interests and passions are. This will help point you in the right direction, and identify what jobs you want to apply for. Friends, family, and job counsellors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

What about returning to work after caring for family, or taking care of other obligations? Begin by focusing on your needs before returning to work. Look over your education and experience and determine whether or not you need to go back to school, or apply for one of Palette Skills’ upskilling programs. Think about what you like to do, and what activities you enjoy. Try to articulate to yourself—and others—what an asset you could be for a specific role, and apply for that role.

Do Your Research

If you’re just starting out, it’s still important to do your research before jumping into the workforce. Find short-term internships or job shadow opportunities, because these will help you understand what the career you’re interested in is all about, and will definitely get you noticed. A successful unpaid or paid internship often leads to a great job. 

And if you’re coming back to the work world, research is key. Find out what your strengths are, and learn what kinds of positions and industries align with them. The answers may not always be obvious. For example, did you know that good soft skills—including things like communication and empathy—are critically important for tech? Consider upskilling into the world of B2B with Palette Skills’ SalesCamp program!

Part-Time or Contract Work

Whether you are returning to work, or just beginning the search for a career, jumping back into work full speed ahead may not always be the best option. Consider a part-time job or contract work. If you have a family or busy lifestyle, less hours and a flexible schedule may be perfect—and can serve as a future jumping-off point to a full time career later on. 

Find a Mentor

Mentors can help prepare you for entering the workforce. They know what to expect within your industry, and can draw on relevant experience. A mentor is a great start to begin networking, and the sooner you start the better. While a mentorship can be a great opportunity for a young person, it’s also true that older workers can get more out of mentoring than they expect.

Optimize Your Social Media

Employers and recruiters always check out your social media profiles. Your profile picture should have good resolution. Clean up and delete any embarrassing and offensive photos. Be careful of your comments and language. If you are returning to the work world, take some time to learn about how people use social media professionally. It might be worth your while to catch up by taking an online course, or attending a continuing education program that gets you up to speed with social applications.

Update Your Resume

Even if you have little or no experience, always make sure you have a current resume ready to go, because you never know when the perfect job opportunity may come your way. Check out this link for ideas on what to emphasize in your resume. Remember, you want to make sure that recruiters and employers can envision you working at their company. 

Build Your Skills

If you can, take the opportunity to find training or upskilling before getting into—or returning to—the workforce. Take the time to volunteer, or find an internship to bridge the gap between school and the workplace. Check out Palette Skills’ amazing upskilling programs, and connect quickly to employers looking to hire!

Good Communication

Good communication and improving your communication skills will help you in the workplace. To prepare for your career, learn to ask great questions, and listen attentively to the answers people give you. Look for speaking opportunities among your peers. Hone your communication skills and become a better communicator, no matter if you’ve just graduated, or are planning to get back into the job market. 

Expand Your Horizons

If you’ve just graduated, or if you’re coming back to work, there are so many opportunities to work and study abroad. If you’ve just completed your studies, working as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language can expand your horizons, and show prospective employers your interest in other cultures and people. If you’re older, you should consider volunteering for international aid and development organizations. Get started by checking out this helpful link.  

Re-entering the Workforce 

Sometimes, life has a way of just happening. You may find that taking a break from the workforce may be your best option. Perhaps you’re starting a family and want to be a stay-at-home parent. Maybe you’re in the process of relocating or changing careers. No matter what your situation is, you need to keep thinking about your transition back to the workplace in the future.

Seek a Career Coach

A career coach may be another option to help you re-enter the workforce. They can assist you with developing a focus, teach you how to network, and show you how to utilize job websites. Often, career coaches can offer workshops on employment related topics.

Join the Workforce

Finding a job doesn’t have to be difficult. Many people these days don’t just stick with one area of focus, and changing industries is not unusual. Explore your options and find the opportunities to help you be successful. Whether you’re younger or older, there has never been a better time to put yourself out in the world, and find your dream job!

Written by Katie Meyers, with contributions from Palette Skills. Katie is an SEO Specialist at SEO Design Chicago. Katie is from Washington State and has an AA and a Social Media Marketing Certificate. 

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