In an earlier post, I talked about the paradox that students face in their job search: They need experience to get a job, but they need the job to get experience. As such students have often heard from employers:
“Sorry, but I am looking for someone with more experience”
It’s unfortunate but it’s the challenge that comes with starting your career in a field when you have little experience.
A similar challenge faces foreign applicants or job seekers new to a country. Even though the applicant may be well qualified with extensive experience but the message they get from employers is:
“Sorry but you do not have experience in our country.”
This is frustrating situation for these job seekers, and there are no easy answers. Without recent, related and local experience, getting a job as a student or when you are new to a country can be a challenge.
One way to help overcome this obstacle is to get involved! By this I mean get involved with your community by joining volunteer organizations, sporting teams, clubs and so on. Volunteering for a local charity while you are looking for work will help you in your job search significantly. For example suppose you wanted to enter the counseling or helping profession, a good place to volunteer would be the emergency shelters, crisis centres, and so on. Volunteering can help your job search in many ways such as:
- It provides you an opportunity to develop career related skills and experience.
- It gives you an opportunity to network and helps you build contacts for job leads.
- Gets you a local reference from an established organization.
- It will improve your resume by addressing the current employment gap and show social responsibility.
Joining sporting teams, groups, clubs and competitions can also help. Here is an article about a group of business students who entered into an investment research competition and received second prize. Instead of just finishing school and then expecting a job with little or no experience, these students got involved and got experience. And now they have an advantage when looking for work.
So if you are a student or new to the country and you are finding it a challenge to find paid work, get involved with your community. Volunteering, joining teams, and clubs, will definitely help your job search. Lastly, there is one more benefit to getting involved that I did not mention: You will feel great knowing that you are contributing to your community and making a difference.