are you looking for your first “adult” job?

Are you a recent high school or university graduate? Did you take a break from employment?

If your answer is “YES!” to any of these questions, keep reading for tips on finding a job with little to no experience.

When you have limited work experience, it often feels like doors are closed to you.

“We regret to inform you that due to the overwhelming number of highly qualified candidates….”

You know the rest. A rejection email hits your inbox after sending in your resume.

here’s the good news: you CAN and WILL find a job!

Focus on new benefits and highlight critical skills to maximise your job potential.

Cycling man, autumn trees and office buildings on the background.
Cycling man, autumn trees and office buildings on the background.

emphasise the benefits of being new to the workforce

Being a fresh graduate with little experience in the field you want to build a career can be challenging. You don’t know as much as more experienced candidates. You don’t have years of do’s and don’ts to guide your work. But being new to the workforce is quite powerful.

As a new worker, you can ask as many questions as needed to feel comfortable and learn. Colleagues and interviewers are more likely to help you when you’re new.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should bring a list of 100 questions to your interview. What it does mean is that you can ask questions that matter to you, such as workplace culture, growth potential, and career development. 

Being new is also helpful as your mindset is fresh. You have the enthusiasm for work that dwindles for many people later in their careers.

Use that enthusiasm to your advantage. Talk about your passions and how you want to impact change. Discuss how your goals match the company’s values.

Your excitement for work will go a long way.


maximise your job potential

submit your cv

experience doesn’t have to mean “work experience”

Not only have you been in school for most of your life, but you’ve done more than study. You’ve participated in extracurricular activities such as the arts, athletics, volunteer opportunities, church groups, and more. You’ve had opportunities to strengthen leadership skills and sharpen teamwork. You’ve connected with others, shared your ideas, and developed your relationship-building skills in many ways. 

Use these steps to think about your unpaid activities to highlight on your resume or cover letter.

An illustration of a person working from home
An illustration of a person working from home

1. how did you spend your summer break?

Many students spend the summer break doing some activity. Taking what you did during these activities, what they taught you, and how it made you a more experienced, well-rounded person are all skills you accumulated that you can reflect on your CV.

Here are a few ideas to consider: 

training during the off-season

  • This may include athletics, arts, or games. Did you work out every day? Did you learn to play a new instrument?

exchange experience

  • Graduates often participate in exchange programmes during summer breaks as part of their studies. Where did you go? What did you learn? How did you manage conflict amongst your peers or host family during your trip? What values did you learn from our host culture?  

small and odd jobs

  • You may have worked in something that does not align directly with your career goals. Did you babysit or nanny? Did you pet sit or care for other animals? Did you help an older adult with groceries or errands? 


  • Volunteering is still working but without pay. Did you create a fundraiser for your sports team? Were you a student journalist for the university or school paper? 

2. what did you do after class? 

Similarly, new workforce entrants will have experience with after-class activities at university. Did you sing in the choir, play in a jazz band, play basketball, or tutor other students?

Think about how you used your time productively. These activities show a lot about you being #morethanjustacolleague and showcase your teamwork and leadership skills without having formal work experience. 

If you weren’t into extracurricular activities, that’s fine, too. Highlight your hobbies and why you’re passionate about them. You might find that an interviewer or future boss has a shared hobby.

This makes you relatable.

3. what makes you unique?  

Aside from the things you do, who you are is most important. Every worker brings a unique set of life experiences.

In your cover letter, talk about the challenges you overcame. Maybe you had an illness as a child or lost someone you loved. Maybe you grew up with fewer resources or were a part of a military family that travelled a lot. Perhaps you moved to another country or learned a new language.

Highlight these experiences that show you are resilient and adaptable. These qualities can’t be taught but speak positively about who you are.

Man sitting outside talking to his phone.
Man sitting outside talking to his phone.

you know more than you think you do

You’ve probably heard that phrase before. But think about the experiences you had that gave you transferable skills. Transferable skills are the things you’ve learned and grown through various experiences that can help you shine as a candidate.

Here are some examples of transferable skills: 

you wrote for your school’s newspaper

  • Your transferable skills might include written communications, document production, and proofreading. 

you volunteered to help the elderly with tasks around the home and medical appointments.

  • Your transferable skills might include empathy for others, an initiative to support others, attention to detail and following directions. 

you sang in the school choir

  • Your transferable skills might include teamwork, preparation, adaptability, verbal communication, and presentation skills. 

a little confidence 

Starting your job search can feel intimidating. Once you list your experiences and transferable skills, you will feel more confident about what you bring to a new job. You may also consider writing down other positive qualities about yourself that you wish to highlight in your cover letter

A little confidence in what you bring to a job goes a long way, even if you are figuring yourself out. Be careful not to sound overly confident, however, because you are new. You will be a lifelong learner wherever you go.

Even when you’re an experienced professional, there will still be surprises. Balance your confidence with the reality that we all have strengths and weaknesses. 

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now, find work that feels good!

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