Launching into a new career from a standing start, with no experience or connections, seems like a daunting task.
But if you are ready to put in the work around finding work – it can be done. When it’s time to tell the world who you are and what you have to offer, you need to do some thinking, doing, writing and talking:
Consider what your chosen industry requires in a worker, then think about what you already do and do not have within yourself.
You may be great at chatting to customers in your part-time retail job, which translates to ‘good communication skills’ in employment terms.
Or you play basketball, which spells teamwork skills.
Or you have a part-time job and you play basketball and you study – that’s ‘ability to manage multiple competing demands’.
This self-reflection will probably show you already have more transferable work skills than you realised.
Volunteering can be a good way into your chosen industry, allowing you to practise your skills and get a taste for the work. It’s a look into the real world of the job and importantly a chance to make connections with people who may be able to help you secure employment.
While you are volunteering you can bear in mind those key skills required for the job, improve on the skills you think you might be lacking and work towards your strengths.
If you are on placement for your course, your best chance to turn it into a job is to do your best, show up on time every time and find that sweet spot of being impressive without looking like you are trying too hard, and going above and beyond in what you do without being pushy. Tricky but doable.
There is plenty of help available to put together a great resume, brilliant cover letter and spot-on selection criteria responses to a job ad.
Chewy Fang from SLAM (Student Life @ Melbourne Polytechnic) says their Career Ready program offers a series of workshops to help people present themselves on paper in the best possible way, highlighting skills and translating previous experience into employment keywords.
They also have a session on how to use LinkedIn effectively, for when a basic resume might not be enough. It covers things like how to network, practising networking and your elevator pitch, and how to set up a profile.
Talk yourself up. It may not come easily (and you don’t want to overdo it either) but you are your best salesperson, you are the expert on you and what you have to offer.
Tell everyone you are looking for work - friends, neighbours, your friends’ neighbours, you never know who might know someone who is looking to hire a you.
Go online to search for professional networking events and contact industry groups to see what they have to offer new starters.
It’s OK to message someone on social media, as Chewy says ‘LinkedIn is the best for professional social media, no harm in messaging like a cold call to an employer or industry to put your name in their mind’.
After all that thinking, doing, writing and talking, it will be time to start working.
For more information about Career Ready workshops, volunteering and skills expo, careers expo and networking events contact SLAM.