General chatter - How do you get a job with no work experience?

12-26-2010, 08:15 PM
I am trying to find a job so I can save up and move out sometime this year, but it seems impossible because I have no work experience, I've never volunteered, I don't have any extracurricular activities and I only have one non-family reference. I don't even have her personal phone number, I have to put the school's number. I feel like I'm NEVER going to get a call back because my applications are so empty and unimpressive. I've written that I can work any day, any hours, overnights, holidays, weekends, whatever. I want to move out of here as soon as possible and I'll do whatever I can to make that happen.

I know living on your own is expensive, with rent and bills and food and transportation and everything, plus I have a cat so I'd have to pay for her food and litter etc. It's all so overwhelming and I'm trying really hard but I live in a VERY poor city and nobody needs anybody for work anywhere.

Does anyone have any advice? Places I might be missing? Most places you have to apply online for and I feel like that slims my chances down even more because I can't introduce myself and I'm just a name in probably hundreds of applicants who are probably more qualified than me.

12-26-2010, 08:43 PM
Do you have a Goodwill store?

There was information on the evening news tonight about Goodwill offering job training. Many people were getting jobs after doing the training and some of them were working for Goodwill.

I know it's not much but it's a start.

Here's the link with the info.

If that doesn't work volunteer somewhere a library, senior center, hospital.

Good luck.

12-26-2010, 09:12 PM
Do you have stores in your area? Variety stores, department stores ? See if they have any entry level job openings, stocking or clerking perhaps.

The Last Noel
12-26-2010, 09:22 PM
Oh good something I actually can help someone else with.

My first advice would be that you should start to volunteer in the area of your ideal career asap. Not being employed is definately a downer but if you get interviews at least you can talk about your goals and how you are working towards them. Also consider a crap minimum wage job part time while you continue to search for your ideal career. Then on your resume spin your nonsense job responsibilities into some total hyperbole.

Example: If you get a job as a sales associate in a retail store spin your relevant work experience as if you enjoy very much finding the perfect outfit for everyone and smiling at everyone all day because you enjoy being around people.

Example: If you get a job as drive thru personnel it is because you are an over-organized and fast paced person who enjoys multitasking and thrives within a challenging environment.

My ultimate advice would be for you to get any job as soon as possible. Waiting for your 'ideal job' and consequently leaving a gap in your resume unless you are critically injured, pregnant or caring for a relative looks very very lazy. :(

Lastly, keep an organized journal of every job you apply to, and even though you are new to the workplace you should create at least a few resumes (one for each industry you are interested in working with).


12-26-2010, 10:00 PM
How old are you? Fast food places are almost always hiring, because it's a horrible job. But someone has to do it.

I've been working at least one job since I turned 15, plus doing extra curriculars, so I really can't sympathize. As soon as I was able I was responsible for buying all my own clothes and that junk. As a teenager, most of the time I had two jobs. My first job was at Sherby's Ice Cream and Treats. You're going to just have to take whatever's offered you first. A lot of my jobs I got with new stores opening, but I'm from Omaha, an expanding city. If you live in a smaller area there might not be as many options.

12-26-2010, 10:42 PM
I'm 18, really close to 19 by the way. I'm freshly graduated (June) and looking for a part-time job like fast food. It hasn't been too long since I started applying, but I'm already starting to get discouraged that I won't be able to find anywhere to work. My applications are so unimpressive, and I'm pretty sure even fast-food places are competitive where I live. My mom told me McDonald's had a sign saying they were hiring and to apply online, so I did and never got a call or anything. I've also applied for big chain stores, an ice cream shop, petsmart, pizza places, and more that I can't think of right now.

I was wondering, is it better to shoot for locally owned stores? Local pizza vs pizza hut, sub shop vs subway? I thought that a lot of these places are usually family owned and don't really need people. I've been applying online, but I plan on going out and hitting the smaller places once Christmas blows over. Will my luck be better there?

Also, I read that I shouldn't wear jeans when going in to apply, but I don't have anything BUT jeans. Would it be worth it to go buy some black pants to make a better impression, or does that only matter for interviews?

Sorry for all of the questions!

12-26-2010, 11:11 PM
Have you been calling to check on your applications? If you haven't, big mistake. You're right. There's possibly hundreds of people applying for jobs. If you just put in an application, and leave it up to them to contact you, they never will. Not calling to check on your application shows you're uninterested. So always give them about a week, and then call to check in. You'll be surprised how many people will schedule your interview when you call.

I don't think it matters if you're wearing jeans to go pick up an application. Just make sure they're nice jeans without holes or anything in them. Make an effort to do your hair and put on some make-up to look presentable.

When it comes to your interview, DEFINITELY dress up. Black pants, nice blouse, the whole nine yards.

When it comes to locally owned stores, most of them will probably interview you and hire you on the spot, so that's something to think about when you're getting dressed to go pick up the application. A corporation has to go through formal interviews and paper work. And the person giving you your application isn't likely to be the one making the hiring decision. I've worked for both. Each has their perks.

Now's probably not an ideal time to be job hunting. Just because places hire a bunch of people for the holiday season starting in late October. And then to fulfill their work force, they just offer jobs to the seasonal employees. But those people will start dropping like flies once they realize retail and fast food isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Just keep looking for places with now hiring notices. Fast food joints have high turn over rates, so call and check on those apps. :)

12-26-2010, 11:12 PM
One more thing, when you turn in your application. Ask for "the manager". The higher up the person you give your application too, the more likely it is to be looked at.

12-26-2010, 11:29 PM
Thank you so much! I've gotten mixed information when it comes to checking on applications. I wasn't sure if I should call and check on the status or sit around and hope they call me. Now I'm going to have to call quite a few places to check on my apps.

I have tons of nice blouses, but I only wear jeans. I'm going to have to invest in a pair of black pants. Thank you everyone for your help, and if anyone else has more input please share!

12-27-2010, 12:00 AM
I second getting a nice pair of slacks to wear to interviews.

Another place that is always looking for help are motels. Seems like they always need maids. Hospitals and nursing homes almost always need food and janitorial/housekeeping/laundry staff.

12-27-2010, 12:45 AM
My advice would be apply everywhere. It can be expensive to advertise for staff, so a lot of places don't advertise at all. I worked in human resourses for a big grocery store and that's what we did and only hired from cvs that were sent in. Keep trying and something will come up as it can be hard to find someone who is available so many shifts. I've worked for a few big companies, and once you get your foot in the door if you have the right attittude you can move your was into higher and better paying positions.

Dressing up is a must. And dress up if you go to stores to ask for application forms. If there is something available and you look tidy and presentable then you might just get a call that day.

Good luck and don't give up :)

12-27-2010, 02:18 AM
You guys are awesome, thank you. I'll definitely go buy some black pants to wear when applying/interviewing.

By the way, when I call to check on the status of the application, I ask for the manager correct? Then what should I say? I don't want to sound like an idiot. Something like "Hi, I applied online about a week ago and I'm looking forward to ______ (I don't know what to say here.) I was wondering if my application has been looked at?

12-27-2010, 09:57 AM
I swear by temp agencies as a step up. Although it's mildly annoying to know that a cut of your pay is going to the agency, at least they come up with jobs. The fact that you get short term assignments in multiple places can be a plus. It pushes you to broaden your work skills and can demonstrate the versatility that employers will want.

If you can type, add, file, and answer phones that opens up many possibilities right there. Lots of offices need someone "up front" to handle incoming mail and phone calls. Once you get your foot in the door, it becomes possible to learn of permenant work elsewhere in a company that may not be advertised.

I got my current salaried job from working as a temp several years ago. Much of the skill set that I needed, was earned from prior temp jobs and contracts.

I really think it's a better avenue than "burger flipping". Get your information in with several temp agancies. Call them every week and tell them you want to be placed. The agency managers pay attention to who is serious, and the persisitent hunters are the ones who get the assignments!

12-27-2010, 12:12 PM
Definately the slacks.I got my first real job because I wore a dress on the hottest day of the year and the bosses wife was impressed(I was 16 at the time and applying at a flower shop).Also,my son and I are volunteering at an animal shelter.He can't do much because he's only 17,but at 18 he can learn how to run the store,or work the front desk which will all give him experience.I've been out of work for years,so doing the volunteering will hopefully help get me back in the work field.

Good luck!

12-27-2010, 10:26 PM
As others have mentioned, always be tidy when you ask for an application. If it's not busy, ask to speak to the manager. Ask if they are "taking applications" and when you come back, don't just hand it to whoever unless the place is busy and they tell you the manager is busy. Ask for the manager and hand over your app. Be nice. Smile. I am not working anymore (SAHM) but I have interviewed people on the spot because I needed someone ASAP and people who slink in, look at their shoes when they talk, are rude, etc - no good to me.

I wouldn't call to ask about an application if it's retail or fast food. To me, it was like calling to see if I was hiring. If you're REALLY interested, you'll get yourself dressed, come in the slow hours, and ask me personally.

Good luck. If you just want SOMETHING, have you tried babysitting? That was always reliable work for me when I was in college. Someone is always looking for a sitter who will show up on time (I know I am) and not flake out. Ask around. Tell people you know that you're interested. People are always looking for a sitter to avoid day care or on breaks. If you don't mind a little light housekeeping, even better. I have a friend with an interior design degree that cleaned apartments to put herself through college. When she graduated, she realized she was making better money cleaning than she would designing. Many years later, she's put two kids through private school and one through college and she's still going strong. Which is not to say you should aim to do housekeeping for the rest of your life, just that if you can be creative sometimes you can find something that you can work with.

Good luck! It's hard when you're first starting out and your job history is blank. You will find something. However, my advice about moving out - work for a while before you jump. Save as much as you can. Be realistic about what it costs to live on your own. If you find a roommate, don't choose someone just because they're a friend, choose someone who can pay the bills on time and clean up behind themselves.

12-27-2010, 11:19 PM
Nicole: Thank you for your advice. This Thursday I plan on going in to apply at locally owned stores and the fast food places that don't take online applications. One question, though: Is it really THAT bad to just call in? The problem is, I applied to 30+ places in two cities and it would literally take me all day to go into EVERY single one of them, talk to a manager, etc. It's not that I'm not motivated to get a job, it's just that I don't really have time to do all of that. Would it be best if I went in to the stores that I really would like to work at (ones closest to home etc) and then call in to the least desirable locations?

Also, I know moving out can cost a lot of money, so I'm definitely trying to be realistic about the numbers. I've been doing rough estimates of my monthly pay, checking out places to live and then doubling rent (to pay the initial deposit) and then making sure I would be able to pay bills etc for a few months before I move.

12-28-2010, 12:31 PM
When are you applying?

When I worked in the restaurant business, we'd toss out any resume that was brought during lunch or dinner. If you apply in fast food, go at opening or 2-4pm.

If I was 18 or 19 and in a dead town, I'd probably start applying outside of it anyways. I wish I had lived in the city as a young single girl just a bit longer :)

12-28-2010, 01:08 PM
Usually fast food places are easy to get hired on (with no experiences) or at least that just maybe up here in Canada. Go during the dead times for these places though, because it'll be easier to speak to someone which may give you a greater advantage for the job.

I also hate applying to jobs online ...I find them much harder to get because they have how ever many resumes going in all at once yous is bound to be missed. Always going in, in person I found is better because you can speak with someone or just go in and look good.

12-29-2010, 11:12 AM
Thank you so much! I've gotten mixed information when it comes to checking on applications. I wasn't sure if I should call and check on the status or sit around and hope they call me. Now I'm going to have to call quite a few places to check on my apps.

I have tons of nice blouses, but I only wear jeans. I'm going to have to invest in a pair of black pants. Thank you everyone for your help, and if anyone else has more input please share!

no need to go out and drop 30+ on a new pair of pants. If you have a 2nd hand store you can get a very nice pair for less than 5.

Good Luck!

12-29-2010, 11:26 AM
I want to second the temp agency suggestion. When I applied, they gave me tests on typing speed, Office skills (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc), and other computer skills, so you want to make sure those are up to speed.

The great thing about a temp agency is that it gives you resume metrics (your typing speed, your Office skills, etc) and a wide variety of work experiences, mostly in office settings (which can give you office-type resume items, which are important if you eventually don't want to be working in food/retail/hospitality).

12-29-2010, 02:40 PM
That actually sounds really good. Fortunately for me I type extremely fast (my career planning teacher stopped making me do the lessons when I was in her typing class because it was pointless...I browsed the internet and played solitare and passed lol). I also know how to use the 10-key pretty well, Word 2007, and Powerpoint. Not Excel, but I could probably teach myself. I'll definitely look into that, thank you!

12-29-2010, 03:44 PM
I would third the temp agency suggestion.

I made a pretty decent amount of money temping when i was younger, and like another PP, I got my current salaried job as a contract to hire 10 years ago.

Stress your typing and 10 key (not everyone is good with a 10 key, a lot of peope don't even know what that is!) and organizational skills and make sure you act professional and mature.

When I was younger (in 2000), I would just call temp agencies from the phone book and just ask if they have available work. They would say yes and have me come on in for an interview. Then they find the jobs for you. It was so easy!

I don't know where you live but Robert Half International and Kelly Services are ones I worked for that are national. They have different divisions based on skillsets (IT, accounting, general clerical, Robert Half even has an executive branch for temp CEOs!) Check out their websites or give local ones a call for general clerical work. They are listed under Staffing Agencies, Contract agencies or Temp agencies. Check online or in the phone book.

Dress in your best conservative corporate wear for the interview....dark pants/skirt, button up blouse, no gym shoes, no jeans.

Good luck!

12-29-2010, 07:47 PM
You never know what kinds of things agencies can call you for. It may not even require using a computer.

Once I was asked to come in and sort a bunch of packages into "east" and "west". Since I knew my US state geography down pat, that was easy. Another time I spent a week in a print shop cutting paper, running copies, and shrink wrapping materials. Another assignment for a few weeks was retrieving magnetic tapes from book cases, and filing them back.

At all comes down to being flexible and accurate, and available to work.

12-29-2010, 10:27 PM
You never know what kinds of things agencies can call you for. It may not even require using a computer.

Once I was asked to come in and sort a bunch of packages into "east" and "west". Since I knew my US state geography down pat, that was easy. Another time I spent a week in a print shop cutting paper, running copies, and shrink wrapping materials. Another assignment for a few weeks was retrieving magnetic tapes from book cases, and filing them back.

At all comes down to being flexible and accurate, and available to work.

So true!

I had a job for a summer where myself and 4 other women sat in a room at a state agency, organizing the case workers crap off their desks to file it!!! These case workers literally brought us all the paperwork and other assorted junk they had in their offices and we had to sort through it all. It was quite a lot harder than sitting at a desk all day long where you can slack off on the internet, but I was only required to know how to read and be able to alphabetize things - no job experience was required.

12-30-2010, 05:27 AM
I also recommend the temp agency. The good ones will test you on math, filing, typing, some of them will test on 10 key as well. Also, my sister is a real thrifty shopper, she makes almost 6 figures a year and still frequents Goodwill and the likes. She finds great work clothes, name brands and I have seen her find stuff with the original tags still on them. I am pretty sure you can find a nice pair of slacks and a couple nice tops. I have a pair of slacks that I found the same day as a nice black suit jacket, you can't tell they are just a little off on the color unless you have them about an inch from the eye. Trust me you want to dress to impress even if you know they wear jeans and t shirts all the time. Also, if you can find somewhere to volunteer take it, the best job I EVER had started as a volunteer opportunity. Shelters, hospitals, clinics, schools, military family programs and anywhere else you can think of have volunteer ops especially for young adults who need some work experience.

12-30-2010, 04:48 PM
Another option might be to go to the State Unemployment office and see what job listings they have. They may have some entry level jobs that fit your skills. Good luck.

01-01-2011, 04:46 AM
I was just wondering, about following up on applications/checking the status, how long should I wait? It's been about 10 days since I started applying. I was going to check on in Tuesday, which will be 11 days after applying. Did I wait too long or not long enough? I want to show interest but I don't want to be annoying or look like a slacker. Someone in this thread said about a week so I'm hoping I didn't miss my window of opportunity.

01-01-2011, 12:15 PM
I don't think there's a magic number of days that you should wait. I normally gave it a week before I checked in so you don't come off as pushy. You just gotta remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and it seems impossible now, but everyone who is successful today had to start off with the dreaded "first job" :) I have worked everything from childcare (both in home and in a daycare setting), janitorial, clerical...the only thing I DIDN'T do was food service! So good luck and keep us posted!

01-01-2011, 01:24 PM
I think about five days is right for retail: those positions tend to get filled pretty quickly. It's good to have a script in your head for when you call/stop by:

One, ask who you need to speak to: "I dropped off an application last Thursday. Who is in charge of hiring?". If you say "I was wondering what has happened with that application?", the person may just say 'I dunno. I don't think they are hiring" just to get you to go away. Find out the name of the person that really matters, and speak to them.

When you meet them, introduce yourself and offer to shake hands. You want this person to remember you.

If the hiring manager says "we haven't really had a chance to look at applications", I always liked to say "Would it be okay if I came back by next [five days aways or so] and checked again? I really would love to be considered". The worst that can happen is they tell you no, and if they tell you yes, you'll be more comfortable coming back by.

If they say 'We aren't hiring at this time", don't get discouraged. Remember that turnover in retail places is HUGE. So smile and say "I hope you'll keep my application on file and keep me in mind. I'd really like to work here." There's a good chance that SOMEONE will quit without notice in the next 2 weeks, and when the hiring manager takes the pile of applications out of the drawer, most of them will just be pieces of paper. You want him to associate your name with that nice young lady who seemed so cheerful and eager.

01-01-2011, 06:45 PM
A few thoughts:

Trying to start as a server with no experience is difficult for many reasons, so trying to start in somewhere else on the chain usually has better results. Sometimes, a kitchen just needs an extra set of hands.

You might want to consider going in to various restaurants around town (during slow hours - show some respect and it'll get you far!) and asking for a minute or two of the manager's time. Without too much back story, explain that you're interested in working for them but you don't have any work experience, and that you'd be willing to start out as an emergency fill-in if someone is sick/doesn't show/need extra hands/so on.

Have some index cards filled out before hand with your name, number and "emergency dishwasher" (or something similar) written on it, so that you're prepared if they seem interested. Some places may be happy with the card, others may still want you to fill out an application. Some places may love the idea, others may be very quick to dismiss it...a lot of it will have to do with how it is run (mom & pop vs. corporate chain, etc)...

Of course, you have to actually be willing to pretty much be on call for a while. Perks to this include crash courses in various kitchens (I'm using kitchens as an example I'm familiar with, but I'm sure there are other fields of work that I'm overlooking for this method), which helps add to your realm of experience.

Anywhere that accepts one of these "cards" will likely assume that you're placing them elsewhere, which is okay - makes you a bit of a freelancer, a first-come, first-serve basis, and they'll understand if they call and you're not available. If that happens more than a couple of times, though, they may stop calling.

If you do get called in, be realistic about when you can be there, and stick to that time. No one expects you to do everything flawlessly, but work hard and listen to what you are told. You don't deserve to be walked on, but you will be low on the totem pole and may get yelled at (busy cooks can be like that, don't take it too personally).

If you work hard and do your best, you'll be the shining next-in-line to be considered for being hired on.

Sorry if this makes little sense...didn't mean to ramble on, but my post-New Year's haze hasn't lifted yet *grins* Don't be afraid to be a little unorthodox, it can get you far!

Three more quick points (I promise, I'm almost done!):
- I was hired on rather quickly, but the two or three shifts I worked as "emergency", I was paid under the table (I didn't have an hourly rate at that point, more of a "thanks for bailing us out! Here's $x)...there are mixed opinions on this, but my thoughts are that as long as it doesn't go on for very long and no one gets abused, it's not a big deal.
- Being clean is infinitely more important than what exactly you are wearing, though dressing nicely is always important. A nice, dark colored (super dark blue or black) pair of jeans with NO spots/tears/faded bits/NO GLITTER and a nice top (avoid spaghetti straps or T-shirts) will suit you well if you don't want to spend money on slacks that you'll seldom wear.
- Finally (!), your worth as a human being has nothing to do with any of these people. While it's nice to have an opportunity to work, remember that you are providing a service...keep your obligations, of course, but just because someone pays you does not mean that they own you/can manipulate you. There are great bosses and horrible bosses, just like employees.

Best of luck to you...sorry this is so long!

01-01-2011, 09:30 PM
Okay, I guess I'll check in tomorrow since it's better now than waiting longer and I've already passed the 5-7 day window. Hopefully they don't think I'm being a slacker by waiting 11 days.

Thank you for the helpful advice.

01-02-2011, 01:40 AM
I recently graduate and started interning in the summer and will continue to until my move so i will have experience in my field even though it isn't paid.

01-02-2011, 01:40 AM
and joining associations around your field helps too. good luck!!!

Lady Stardust
01-02-2011, 09:57 PM
I have a lot of experience in this area.

You always have to have a professional appearance whenever you go into the store/restaurant to talk to the manager. I've heard managers of mine make comments if someone drops their application and they're wearing jeans, etc, that they're not going to bother calling them bc they can't be dammed to dress to impress, and its a first impression, which are the most important.

Grocery stores are great places to start a job. It was my first job. And my coworkers were my age, 16-18. You start out as a courtesy clerk (aka you bag groceries, clean up spills, help customers to their car, collect shopping carts) and from there you can work your way up. Safeway is a great company.

You can list skills you learned at school like working in teams, prioritizing, organization, time management, etc. Everyone has to get a first job and employers know that.

01-03-2011, 04:25 PM
Try a locally owned bookstore or coffee shop. You may have to start by sweeping floors or cleaning tables, but as long as you show a good work ethic, you will be remembered when something else opens up.
A good work ethic involves the following:
1. Be on time. Every day. After your breaks too. It is a good practice to arrive 10-15 minutes early and stay in the parking lot until time to come in.
2. Be clean. Wear clean clothing, try to wear conservative jewelry and shoes, this is not the time for the sexy sandals or large hoop earrings.
3. Be polite. Answer the phone properly, keep your personal cell phone off or on silent at work. Don't check your phone or messages unless you are on break.

I started my educational career as a temporary receptionist. I am now a permanent employee on my third position and fourth pay rate. I also have excellent benefits and retirement to look forward to. It didn't happen overnight.

You are in my thoughts.

01-29-2011, 02:42 AM
Try a company like Regis. They do inventory for a majority of retail stores. Its kind of cool to count stuff and not sure what they pay.

As far as work goes, it doesn't matter if you worked before. Dress up, smile, firm handshake and eye contact go a long way. Also having open avalibility will help A LOT!! As a manager, those are the things I look for in a possible future employee.
Good luck with your search.