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How to look for a job when you don’t have work experience
Last updated: October 1, 2022
Michael Frash
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How to look for a job when you don’t have work experience
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On your job search, you’ve probably encountered a common roadblock — hiring managers require experience, but you need a job to get experience in the first place. So how do you go about looking for a job when you don’t have work experience?

In reality, employers aren’t always looking for “work” experience. What they’re looking for are relevant experience and skills. There are other places you can pull from if you don’t have a college degree or professional work experience. Keep in mind that only 37.5% of US adults aged 25 and above have a college degree, which means most of them don’t.

Read on to discover the best jobs you can get with no college degree or previous work experience — and how you can write an effective resume to improve your chances of landing that job.

What does it mean to have no work experience?

Having no work experience means you’ve never been officially employed. However, it doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience doing things that employers see as valuable.

Most people have at least some skills or experience that they can leverage in a job search, even if they have no official work experience.

Caring for younger siblings isn’t “work” experience, but it may have helped you develop skills like accountability, attention to detail, empathy, and more. Taking part in team sports in grade school or high school isn’t considered official work either, but it helps develop team spirit. Nearly any impactful life experience can be leveraged as valuable during your job search.

6 jobs that don’t require any experience or college degrees

If you have no experience, you need to start somewhere. You can start with these six job options. Some of these jobs require on-the-job training, but none of them require lengthy certifications or degrees out of your pocket.

1. Flight attendant

Flight attendants provide in-flight passengers with services during commercial flights. They’re usually on their feet for several hours at a time and have unusual shifts since they need to fly back and forth from their hometown. If you’re comfortable being in an airplane and like the idea of traveling, this could be an interesting entry-level job for you.

To become a flight attendant, you need a high school diploma or GED. You’ll also need to complete a flight attendant training program, but no additional training will be necessary.

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2. Construction worker

Do you enjoy manual labor? Do you enjoy the idea of contributing to building new infrastructures and homes? If so, consider working as a construction worker.

The term “construction worker” is broad. In reality, there are many roles required in a construction crew. Some of them include:

  • Painters

  • Stonemasons

  • Brickmasons

  • Carpenters

  • Roofers

  • Plasterers

Some of these roles require more training than others. For instance, becoming a plasterer will either require a college course or an apprenticeship on the job. But masonry workers usually learn on the job.

You’ll typically need a high school diploma or GED before you can get an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. However, some contractors may be willing to train you even if you don’t have your diploma, especially if you can show you’re motivated and dependable.

3. Restaurant server

Restaurant servers provide customer service to customers in a restaurant. They usually help to seat customers, cater to customers’ needs throughout their meal, take their orders, and deliver food and drinks to tables.

You don’t need a high school diploma to work as a restaurant server. In reality, it’s a great job to have if you’re under 18. You’ll get on-the-job training to learn the ins and outs of the server job, but it helps to have the following skills:

  • Ability to multitask

  • Capacity to stay on your feet for several hours

  • Friendliness

  • Physical agility

Keep in mind that you’ll make a large chunk of your income from tips. This means that you can maximize your income potential with improved customer service skills.

4. Hazmat removal worker

Hazmat removal workers take care of identifying and disposing of harmful substances, such as asbestos or mold. Because of the risks involved, this job is suitable only for those who are capable of following directions to the letter.

You’ll need on-the-job training and some safety training to perform the work involved. To land the job, you’ll usually need a high school diploma or GED.

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5. Administrative assistant

Administrative assistants perform various tasks to support their colleagues, such as filing documents, answering the phone, managing a calendar, etc.

Certificate requirements to become an administrative assistant vary — some employers require a high school diploma, while others won’t. Other employers will also require higher education, but that’s not always the case.

Free certifications are available online to learn how to perform administrative duties if you’re completely new to this type of work. Keep in mind that you can also work as a remote virtual assistant to perform the same tasks.

6. Dental technician

A dental technician makes or repairs devices used in dental health, like night guards, crowns, or dentures. You’ll need a high school diploma or GED, plus some on-the-job training.

Unlike other entry-level jobs on this list, you’ll need to be in training for a longer period before you can take on more responsibilities. But this can be the beginning of a fruitful career if you enjoy technical work.

4 jobs you can do without a formal hiring process (no resume needed!)

If you’re struggling to land a job without any experience, consider doing work that doesn’t require you to get hired directly. These jobs can help you make some income, but they’ll also help you develop skills and experience to spruce up your resume

1. Rideshare driver

With apps like Uber and Doordash, you can work on your own terms and use your motor vehicle to generate an income. You need to pass a background check for most of these gigs, but you don’t need a resume or previous work experience. Even if you just got your driver’s license, you can drive people around and get paid for it — as long as you’re 18 or older.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can deliver food using a bike for apps that don’t require a car, like Doordash. You’ll also save money on gas.

2. Handiwork around your neighborhood

Look around, and you’re likely to find someone who could use a helping hand.

Offer services to people you know to gather up some work experience. Depending on your abilities, you can offer lawn care, snow removal, babysitting, house cleaning, running errands, and much more. These are great gigs if you want a blue-collar job because so many of these can help you develop transferable skills.

Helping others also gives you customer service experience if you’re looking for a job in the service industry.

3. Proofreader for students

Are you talented with grammar and spelling? Turn that into work experience by offering your services as a proofreader or editor for busy college students.

This type of experience can translate well into office jobs.

4. Virtual assistant

If you’re unable to provide services or handiwork in person, consider assisting people virtually. Using sites like Clickworker, you can do small tasks and get paid for your time.

You’ll gather administrative experience while you make some cash.

Websites like these have an application process, but you don’t need a resume or previous experience to get accepted. You’ll just need to verify that you’re a real person with a phone number and an address.

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4 resume tips when you have no work experience

Need to apply for a job right now? Here’s how you can optimize your job application when you don’t have work experience or a college degree to fall back on.

1. Make the most of the skills you have

Whether you’ve had a job before or not, you have skills. It’s not always easy for people to recognize their own skills, but it’s an important step if you want to create a resume that will land you a job.

Think of the skills you’ve gathered throughout your life experiences. Did you have responsibilities or chores growing up? How did those responsibilities improve your skills? For instance, knowing how to cook requires multitasking, attention to detail, and focus.

Optimize your resume to highlight those skills. Instead of writing “cooking,” write the skills you’ve developed because of your cooking skills.

Turn to your hobbies if you’re not sure what else to include. For instance, if you’re a gamer, you’re likely to have:

  • An ability to focus

  • Good hand to eye coordination

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving (for some games, like puzzles)

  • Excellent reflexes

As long as you’re not making up skills from thin air, any skill that you have is good to go.

2. Use volunteering experience

Unpaid labor is still work. This means that volunteering experience can count as work experience. Most volunteering jobs don’t require you to apply like a paid job would, which means they’re more accessible for those who don’t have much experience.

Find volunteer opportunities if you’ve never volunteered before. You can add this experience to your resume. This will showcase your work experience and show that you’re community-minded and willing to help others.

Your volunteer peers can also act as references when you apply for job openings. Make sure to add people who’ve had enough experience working alongside you as references. Someone who barely worked with you may struggle to explain why you’d make a good hire.

3. Establish a career goal

Many resumes include career summaries at the top. Of course, you won’t have a summary of your career on your resume if you have no work experience. This doesn’t mean you have to leave this section empty.

Instead of a career summary, consider writing a career goal. Your career goal should summarize where you see yourself going in the future.

If you have no idea what you want, it’s okay, too. You’ll discover this as you gain more experience on the job market. To get started, tailor your career goal to every application you make so that it fits with the job.

For example, it makes no sense to tell a hiring manager you want to become the manager of a sales team when you’re applying for a job as a restaurant server. Instead, you could write that you see yourself managing a motivated and driven team of professionals.

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4. Nail your cover letter

Your cover letter is the first impression you’ll make with a prospective employer. Before they meet you face to face, they’ll read what you have to say in that letter. It transforms you from an anonymous applicant to a real person who has the drive to succeed.

That’s why it’s important to nail your cover letter to make up for the lack of experience. Use the letter to explain how your life experiences and skills tie into your value as a potential employee. For instance, you could write that the responsibilities you had to manage in your youth have made you into a hard-working person who will fully commit to that company’s goals.

Land your first job to start gathering professional experience

Everyone starts somewhere. The most experienced workers you know once had no work experience at all. Keep in mind that the first job you land doesn’t have to be your final destination.

You can use the experience you accumulate over time to transition to jobs you truly want to do. Make sure to sign up to Jobcase to access a community of like-minded job seekers and find more job opportunities near you.

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