How to Get Experience for a Job that Requires Experience

How to Get Job Experience

One of the questions we get asked most often at Empire Resume is: “How do I get experience for a job that requires experience?

It’s a common conundrum among job seekers—especially recent grads or those looking to change careers.

It’s frustrating because you usually want the job in question so that you can gain the experience the employer wants you to have. 

Some days it can feel like a lose-lose proposition.

However, there are plenty of other ways you can gain meaningful experience that you can add to your resume to help you land that job.

6 Ways to Get Meaningful Work Experience


1. Apply for an Internship

An internship is an opportunity for you to work for a company for a limited period to gain practical experience. The internship is a learning opportunity, so you aren’t expected to walk in the door with experience.

Internships are typically offered to college students who can earn credits in exchange for their work. Many colleges require students to complete internships as part of their requirements for graduation.

Contrary to popular belief, internships are not just for college students. Recent graduates and adults looking to switch career paths can apply for internships as well.

A quick Google search will bring up dozens of websites that offer internship opportunities. Or you can go directly to a company’s website to see what they may be offering.

2. Volunteer

How to Get Job Experience

One of the best ways to beef up work experience on your resume is to volunteer. Many organizations simply want your passion and willingness to work, and they’ll train you on the rest.

Other nonprofits have a wish list of projects they’d like to complete, but they don’t have the resources. For example, they may want to redesign their website or create a social media campaign. They may need someone to analyze data or set up new accounting software.

Find out what they want and volunteer to do it. Even if you’re just trying to acquire the skills to complete the task, they’ll welcome your help. Set up realistic deadlines and expectations. Once you’ve finished the project, you’ll have real-world experience to add to your resume.

Are you still not convinced that volunteerism is good for your resume? Then look at some of these stats from the Deloitte Impact Survey.

  • 85% of employers are willing to overlook employment gaps if they see volunteering.
  • 82% of employers say they are more willing to hire an employee with volunteer experience over an employer who doesn’t.
  • 80% believe a candidate can improve leadership skills through volunteer experience.

And, you never know, you may even be able to turn that volunteer position into a full-time job.

3. Freelance

How to Get Job Experience

Freelancing is an excellent way for you to earn income and gain valuable work experience at the same time.

There are tons of freelancing opportunities for people in creative positions, such as freelance writers, graphic designers, and web designers. But freelancing isn’t limited to creative professions.

If you’re in accounting, then you can find freelance bookkeeping jobs. There are plenty of opportunities for freelance app developers and software programmers as well.

If your goal is to gain work experience, then freelancing is a great way to go.

4. Start a Business

Starting a business may seem like a big step to take just to gain work experience. But don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you become the next Jeff Bezos.

Starting a business can be something as simple as offering IT services to friends and family. If you’re crafty, you can open an Etsy shop to sell your home-made goods. You can even offer to hand wash and wax cars.

The point is, even if it’s not in your desired field, starting your own business shows potential employers that you have a range of skills that they want, such as:

  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Project management
  • Billing
  • Supply chain logistics
  • Order fulfillment

On top of all of that, starting a small business also shows that you are self-motivated and determined. What employer doesn’t want an employee with those attributes?

5. Job Shadowing

How to Get Job Experience

Job shadowing is when you follow a person while they do their job for a few hours each week. It’s an excellent way to get an idea of what your day-to-day would be like if you had a similar job.

Reach out to your network to find a colleague who might let you shadow them.

Discuss what exactly you’d like to gain by shadowing them. Tell them specific parts of the job you want to learn or see happening in real time.

Set up a regular schedule when you’ll be with them, such as every Wednesday from 1:00 to 3:00 pm for two weeks.

Putting specifics around the shadowing opportunity helps keep you and your colleague stay focused on your goals. It also keeps you from overstepping your boundaries. 

6. Teach

There may be opportunities to teach others in your community and you don’t even need a teaching certificate to do it.

Contact an adult school or your local library and ask about instructing a course. They may have a course that aligns with your skills. For example, they may need someone to teach a basic web design course or an intro to PowerPoint.

You may also suggest a course to them such as business writing or sales techniques. Chances are if enough people show interest, they’ll let you teach the course.

Any teaching experience you can put on your resume shows employers that you have leadership qualities. Plus, it shows that you have enough knowledge about the specific topic to successfully teach it to other adults. 

Get the Experience You Need, Now

How to Get Job Experience

You need a job to gain experience, but the employer won’t hire you without experience. This common “chicken or egg” scenario will probably never go away.

However, there are a variety of ways you can gain the experience you need to land the job you want. Use the tips above to beef up the experience portion of your resume and employers will take notice.

Empire Resume Will Help You Get Hired

How to Get Job Experience

We have greater than a 97% success rate landing our clients’ interviews!


Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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