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How to gain experience when you can’t get a job

Due to the current situation, it might seem harder than ever to land your dream job. Many companies are having hiring freezes and others have been making employees redundant (although hopefully with government measures this won’t be the case). But it’s really important that through this rough patch, you use it as an opportunity to get experience for a job to put on your CV.

Of course, a lot of supermarkets are hiring right now to keep on top of the demand from buyers. So if you are in need of money during this time, definitely see where you could help in your local community.

For those of you that may find yourself with more spare time on your hands during this social distancing, it does not mean your personal development has to stop. At the end of all of this, you could have a lot more to talk about in job interviews. So, what could you get up to to boost your prospects when hiring is active again?

Volunteer to help with the situation

For those of you that can, whether you have a bit of spare time alongside a part-time job in a supermarket or haven’t got a job, consider volunteering through this time.

Your local chemist might be looking for volunteers to deliver to elderly people that can’t collect, your council might want help befriending the elderly (such as this), or you could find online roles for charities.

Anything you can do to help will not only show your compassion to future employers, but can also help to ensure that you stay positive yourself and know that you’re making a difference.

Complete an online course or read skills books

If you find yourself with a lot of spare time due to the social distancing measures in place, use the time wisely to learn a new skill that could boost your prospects.

Take a look at platforms such as Udemy or LinkedIn learning to see what course you could do. For me personally, I’m going to take a look at what SEO course I could study as well as learning how to use InDesign, as I feel that will boost my CV a lot within my current industry.

You can find what skills are relevant to your industry by searching job postings and running through the ‘experience required/desired’ sections. Anything you don’t currently have but could learn/get now is worth a try.

Develop your skills by doing an online course

Get unpaid experience in a job

This is a really difficult time for everyone, including us graduates. Those affected will include businesses themselves, so it could be worthwhile approaching small companies that may need the extra help for a few weeks but don’t have the budget to spend.

This one may be harder to achieve, and if you can, make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of through offering to help.

Use the time to figure out priorities and goals

It might not be the easiest way to look at things, but while the job market has become quite stagnant, it’s a calm period to review what career you want and how you want to spend the next few years.

Often, we leave university and feel immense pressure to find any job at all, quickly, just to fill a void. But the time that we find ourselves with now might be a good opportunity to pause and say ‘what do I want from a job?’.

This can then allow for us to develop the skills we need for the job we want, so when it comes to applying for a role we know we really want it. If you need help finding out your interests read this post.


It’s a really trying time for a lot of people, and my thoughts are with everyone affected. For those that have lost their job as a result of Coronavirus or are facing a lot of rejections, it will be really difficult to see this as an opportunity to do anything but feel down. Take your time with whatever you’re doing, set yourself realistic goals and do what you feel is right.

Take care of yourself and your mental health through this, and try to see everything as an opportunity for positive growth.

25 thoughts on “How to gain experience when you can’t get a job

  1. Sarah Eliza says:

    This is a really helpful post Maddie! It really is being sad to see so many people struggling currently to find a job. I definitely made sure to do what you said and volunteer where possible and take some free online classes in certain areas that would help even simple things like how to use excel more and how to use photo software! All super useful ways to use my time πŸ™‚
    Sarah x

  2. There is an amazing plethora of bloggers and businesses offering free courses and webinars, which fills my heart with joy. I feel like the virus is helping bring out generosity and consideration in people.
    I am currently taking a course on safely serving food! πŸ™‚ And I have my eyes out for free writing and blogging webinars; it is a wonderful time to learn something new, or figure out long-term goals.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. nortoncharity says:

    These are all such great ideas! It’s always important to have experience, but sometimes it is so hard to gain that when you can’t find a job in your field. These are all such wonderful ways to achieve experience without having that full time job yet. And it would look so good on your resume too! Thanks for sharing these tips and tricks!

  4. There are so many GREAT charitable organizations out there that could use assistance. If you can find one that could use assistance in the area that you’re looking to move career-wise, it’s a win/win for everyone. When I was first getting into the world of marketing, I went back to College for it and then started handling the marketing for a few non-profits. By the time I started actually pitching businesses to get paid work, I already had an established portfolio.

    1. Definitely! That’s great to know that this has worked for you in the past – thanks for sharing your experiences!

  5. These are some really great ideas for staying positive and giving back while also working on improving skills! I have definitely seen a lot of online courses being offered either at huge discounts or entirely free at the moment and I should definitely look into some of them!

    1. Thank you I’m glad you think so! Yes definitely, I think online courses are the way to go right now!

  6. I loved reading your post! It was so informative and really helpful for those of us who are in this situation. Goals are always important and I will definitely make sure I have some!

  7. I loved reading your post on this topic! It’s really important especially when we’re going through a situation like this in the world. Goals are important to have and I’ll definitely make sure to have some for this!:)

  8. I am a paralegal who runs a law office and people are always asking me how to get hired to be a paralegal and I tell them EXACTLY what you posted here. It doesn’t matter if you have a paralegal degree, because it doesn’t actually teach you how to do the job. You need experience and the best way to get that is to intern/volunteer. I know people don’t want to work for free, but if you prove yourself then you can possibly get hired at that company in the future, or by another company. It sets you apart from the competition. Great post!!

    1. Thank you for your comment! This is really interesting to hear your perspective on this and know that it’s the case within your industry. It is definitely all about the experience and real life skills that you can show that a potential employer cares about!

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