I want to find a job but I have no prior work experience – What can I do?

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Prior work experience helps jobseekers find a job, as it tells the employer that they have a certain skillset. If the jobseeker has no work experience, they need to market themselves by some other means. We have gathered a few tips that will help you find a job even if you do not have any prior work experience.

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Employers use jobseekers’ prior work experience to select new employees. However, young jobseekers in particular may not have any work experience. Is this a problem? After all, you have to start somewhere to add content to your CV.

Below, employers tell you what to do if you cannot demonstrate your skills through your work experience. Use the tips when looking for a summer job, for example.

You can list work experience gained outside an employment relationship in your CV

The curriculum vitae (CV) is a list of your work and study background. What can you write in your CV if you have not had any jobs?

“Work experience does not necessarily mean that you have been in an employment relationship with a company – work covers a broad range of activities. For example, if you have mowed your neighbour’s lawn or regularly walked an acquaintance’s dog, you should write it down in your CV,” says Anette Alho, service director at N-Clean Oy, a company providing cleaning services.

The centre of assistance for Southwestern Finland employs many young people who have no work experience or even education as personal assistants. There are no professional skill requirements.

“If you have no work experience, you can list your hobbies and other activities you enjoy doing in your CV. As a result, employers can see that you are active,” says Sirke Salmela, director of operations at the centre of assistance.

“You should also write down any positions of trust in your CV. They indicate that you are willing and able to take responsibility and you know what to do in various situations,” says Katriina Bergmann, HRD manager at Pirkanmaan Voimia, a company providing meal and cleaning services.

According to the employers, if you can use social media channels fluently, you should also mention this in your CV, because these skills are required in various jobs.

The significance of the application letter is emphasised

You can describe everything you have listed in your CV in more detail in your application letter which you need to attach with your CV. In your application, you also need to express your motivation for applying for the job.

A third of all employees recruited by Turun Osuuskauppa have no or very little prior work experience. According to the employer, interest in customer service and working with other people is more important than work experience. Ulla Kekkonen who is responsible for recruitment at Turun Osuuskauppa says that you should explain in your application why you are looking for this particular job and why you could succeed in it.

You can also present your motivation through your personal experiences.

“You have most certainly been in customer service situations, so you must have some understanding of what kind of service you appreciate and what kind of a customer service employee you would like to be. Write that down in your application,” Kekkonen says. 

It is also important that you tell something about yourself and your areas of interest.

“This does not necessarily have to be related to the job you are applying for, as it is important to show that you are excited about what you do. You can say something about your hobbies and other activities you enjoy doing, and explain why they are important to you,” says Anette Alho from N-Clean.

According to the employers, the significance of the application letter is emphasised especially if the CV is not very long. Write your application with care and with good grammar, as this also gives a good impression of you. Target your application at the job you are applying for, and avoid any “general applications” intended for several jobs. You can also give your application to another person to read before you send it to the employer.

Be active and highlight your motivation

Employers select jobseekers for interviews based on applications.

“Often, we only select our employees after we have been in personal contact with them. During this contact, the key is to focus on self-expression and on saying more about what you are interested in and why you want this particular job,” says Sirke Salmela from the centre of assistance for Southwest Finland.

Employers also want jobseekers to maintain active contact. Calling the employer may seem stressful or difficult, but it helps the employer get a first impression of you. You should also call if you want to make sure that the employer has received your application.

There are also other routes to working life

The way to finding a job does not always need to pass through a regular job application. You can also start your career by volunteering.

“Associations have found this to be a very good route, as it helps us see in practice what you can do, and you can safely try different tasks. We have also had basic education students as volunteers who have later worked as summer employees or even full-time employees,” says Sirke Salmela from the centre of assistance for Southwest Finland.

The lack of education does not have to present an obstacle.

“Currently, many companies train their employees. For example, we at Pirkanmaan Voimia are engaged in cooperation with various educational institutes. When a person comes to work here, they may not have any prior education or work experience, but we can train them through apprenticeship training. After completing the degree, they can find a permanent job here,” says HRD manager Katriina Bergmann.

The employers mentioned in this article talked about job-seeking processes at the RekryExpo exhibition at the Turku Fair Centre on 15 November.

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