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Tips for Students Job Searching With No Work Experience

Susan Ranford -- If you're new to the job search process, here are five savvy steps to help you tackle that classic catch-22: how to land a job with no prior job experience.

Job searching can be daunting, no matter the phase of life you're in. But, if you're a student who has only ever been in school (and never worked), the process of looking for a job may feel particularly intimidating. Maybe you're a freshman or sophomore looking to find a summer job to help pay for student loans. If you're a senior, perhaps you're seeking a position that you can hold full-time after graduation. Whether you're looking for a season-long gig, or want to get a full-time job to help you start paying down what you owe after you refinance student loans, the following tips will help you successfully maneuver the job hunt and land a work opportunity that makes you happy and earns you money.

Go Through Your College

Most likely, your college has a career-focused office for students and graduates. It's where companies will come to recruit students and who alumni will notify about job availabilities so that they can hire grads from the same school they went to. No matter whether you go to a giant state institution, or were able to get some of the best private college loans and become part of a small, tight-knit private college community, your college career or internship office will likely have a position for you. One of the best reasons to start here is that counselors can specifically search open positions geared toward your educational background and where your lack of work experience will matter less.

Use an Online Jobs Database

Many online job databases let you filter jobs by experience. Search these databases for entry-level positions that require no previous experience. Sites targeted toward students can offer many opportunities suitable for a college student or applicant who has nothing on their work résumé. In addition to a searchable database, online sources can also offer tools to help you work on your résumé and portfolio.

Consider Looking for an Internship

Right now, student loan refinance rates are good. This means that you could go through the student loan refinance process and ensure your loans are as affordable as possible. Once you do that, you can minimize your expenses and find an internship that, while it may not pay as well as a job, will get the right experience on your résumé and provide practical skills needed to prove to an employer that you are a stellar candidate. Internships often can be tough because of their limited pay, but they do offer some of the best learning experiences available today and are critical to have on your résumé. Also, internships are not just for summers in between freshman, sophomore, and junior years. An internship is an appropriate choice even for a senior leaving school if they want to get a foothold in a particular industry.

Pay Attention to Your Resume

You may think you don't have much to put on your résumé. After all, you are hunting for a job without any previous job experience. In reality, however, a résumé is a critical place to document all of the great skills and knowledge you DO have about your field. It's an opportunity to show an employer what you've learned in school—and life—that makes you a great candidate for their position..

On your résumé, consider listing classes that are related to your area of interest. These are particularly relevant if they were hands-on, career-training, or skills classes, because they will prove you have concrete knowledge of how to do things in the field. Alternatively, you may want to include a skills section with specific abilities and soft skills you have that will make you a good fit for the position. Some of the skills might be how fast you can type; languages you can speak; whether or not you are a licensed driver; any software you may know or have learned how to use; and much more. Include clubs, community service, specific volunteer work, and other activities where you may have applied soft skills. For example, you used your organizational skills to manage a successful on-campus food drive. A résumé does not have to be empty, padded, or meaningless just because you have never held a job before.

Build Your Network

You may not get a job by applying blindly online. One good option for students who have not worked before is to start networking with people in the industry you want to work in. Start as soon as you can while in school. Attend professional events in the industry, introduce yourself to people, and start building connections. Use LinkedIn as a resource to connect to those who might have jobs in your field. Use informational interviews to get an insider’s view. Speak to instructors and faculty. Remember, whether networking in person or remotely, always present yourself professionally..

Building a network is one of the most powerful ways to ensure you will get and stay employed. It is often the people we know rather than the job experience we have or the classes we've taken that end up netting us a dream position at a dream company. Work on building your network, nurturing it, and fostering relationships, and you may be surprised when those people think of you first when they need someone to fill a role at their organization.

Susan Ranford is the founder of Strategics360, which is committed to providing business and IT professional insightful tips and advice on strategic leadership.

© 2022 Susan Ranford

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