How to gain experience in a field if you can’t get a job without experience!

Reading through a cool job ad where the work seems like it’s tailor-made for you? You might already be thinking of how it would be to work with these great tasks and colleagues, right until that ominous skill pops up and bursts your bubble. The one skill you don’t have experience with or wasn’t part of your study program.

What can you do? Give up? Certainly not! You might feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. But no worries, here are four ways you can work yourself out of this ‘tight’ situation.

(1) Networking

It's a great first step. If the dream job is related to your education/previous experience, building your network is all you may need to do. Ask your friends, former colleagues or anyone you know who might work in the field you target.

If you’ve recently relocated, you might need to think in terms of relevant events and communities you might be able to join. Just to give an example, InterNations is a global community for expatriates in 390 cities worldwide. It is an open community focused on networking. Another example could be attending relevant industry events. You have greater chances of meeting and talking to professionals, and presenting your elevator pitch.

(2) Take a course

If networking is taking you nowhere, and you are still being told that you need a particular certificate, then you might consider signing up for a course. This can cost you some money and time, but if it lands you your dream job, don’t hesitate. It shows commitment and will earn you bonus points with employers.

Finding the right class is important, so be sure to ask your network or former university for any information. It may also be worth checking out the courses offered by professionals working in the field you target. Find the local ‘influencers’ within your field. Connecting with them is valuable both in terms of learning and networking. Be proactive.

If you’re schedule does not permit you to attend classes, there are opportunities you can explore from the comfort of your home. Coursera and FutureLearn offer free online courses in business, tech, engineering, and more, from top universities and educational organizations.

(3) Internship or volunteering

Those not freshly out of the school benches might not be up for ‘slaving’ away for free, but think again. Internships and volunteering are not just an excellent way of gaining relevant experience and adding to your skill set, but can also be the gateway to a full-time position.

Find the companies who offer these opportunities. Think about the values both you and the employer bring to the table and how this could be of benefit to both parties. Let’s take time and curiosity as an example. Immersing yourself into a particular topic can benefit the company’s business strategy, particularly if the company did not have the time to explore how this might benefit them before. Once accepted, the sky's the limit. Show what you can and are willing to learn. Ask questions and involve yourself in as many facets of the business as you want.

(4) Hobbies and extracurricular activities 

Those are often underrated and not taken into consideration when writing resumes. Think about ways they can be useful to show that missing skill. If you have a blog, built a website, coached the little league, or organized community events, think about how including it might impact the way employers see you. Enhance the one that is relevant for the position. Telling employers what you do in your spare time, says a lot about what you are passionate about, and sometimes that’s all it takes.

Hopefully, one of the above points will reveal some hidden talents or new opportunities worth exploring. Don’t forget, the dream job can be yours, and the victory will be that much sweeter if you’ve taken those extra steps to get there.