It’s a chicken and the egg type conundrum: what comes first, experience or the job?

Those just starting out in the workforce or looking to make a career change come up against this issue all the time. They need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience.

New Zealanders are very relationship oriented, and many people can rely on their existing networks and contacts to put in a good word for them or provide that first golden opportunity. But what if you don’t have someone to open that door for you? Let our latest top tips help get you started:

Consider Volunteer Work:
We understand that volunteering may not be a viable long-term solution for you, after all there are bills to pay! But if you’re looking to build up your experience and exposure, not to mention making some good new connections, volunteering can be a great stepping-stone.

Do Good Jobs is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in working within the not-for-profit sector, not only do they list paid jobs, but you can also find many volunteer opportunities as well. If you’re a Wellington local, Volunteer Wellington is another great place to look.

The golden rule of volunteering is to treat it like you’re being paid. Bring the same level of professionalism and enthusiasm you would to any job and it will be noticed!

Volunteer work absolutely can and should be included on your CV, so whether it’s collecting for street appeals, helping out at a foodbank, or volunteering your time with a community group, make sure you include that in your CV.

Temping is often suggested as a good way to build up skill and experience, not to mention the valuable networking opportunities that can come from it. But not all temping roles are suitable for newcomers – some will require you to bring existing experience and be able to hit the ground running, which is not so easy to do when you’re new to all this.

The good news is that as long as you have decent computer skills, a familiarity with the Microsoft suite, can present yourself well and have good communication skills, there are some temping opportunities that are suitable for those just starting out.

If you want to register your interest in temping opportunities, the best thing to do is start contacting recruitment agencies as most temp roles are sourced this way. Look out for job titles such as:

Data Entry – while you can absolutely make a career out of data entry, this can be a great opportunity for people without much previous experience. You’ll need good computer and typing skills and a keen eye for detail.

Reception – if you have a good phone manner and can be a welcoming face for visitors, temporary reception positions can be a great introduction to an organisation as well as providing good administrative-based experience.

Event Staff – obviously the event sector has been hard hit by Covid-19 and social distancing measures, however this is another good way to gain general work experience and learn new skills as you go.

Fundraisers – if you like talking to people, you can gain valuable customer service and relationship management skills as a fundraiser either in person or over the phone.

Get Political:
If you’re looking for work experience ASAP, then there’s one silver lining to 2020: it’s an election year and that means lots of temporary work available throughout the country with the Electoral Commission. With the election being pushed out to October, there’re some areas in NZ that still need workers to help with all aspects of the election process. Visit their website for more details:

Internships aren’t as common in NZ as they are overseas, but they do still exist in some sectors here. There’re some good websites that can help you find and apply for these kinds of opportunities such as New Zealand Internships or NXTStep. Word of caution when it comes to finding internships online: many of these websites charge people for access to internships or a “success fee” if your application is selected. Always do your research first and look for legitimate testimonials before paying for a service like this.

If there’s an organisation that interests you, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and find out if they offer any internship or work experience programmes. It’s a great way to demonstrate your initiative and like so many things in life, you won’t know till you ask!

No matter what kind of work you’re looking for, make sure you have a polished CV that demonstrates your skills and transferable experience. If you’re not sure where to get started with your CV, check out our resources page and recent blog on creating a cover letter. No doubt you’ll be keeping an eye on job boards such as Seek and Trade Me, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to those. Take a look at 7 other ways to find a job for more inspiration.

Stay positive, seek feedback and keep at it. Afterall, we all have to start somewhere!

Good luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

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