Help! I Need a Job But Don’t Have Experience

Graduate Jobs
Young graduate trying to decide on a career path.

What to do if you need a job but don’t have experience

We’ve all been there. You’re looking for your first job and to get it you need to have some experience. But how do you get experience if you haven’t got a job? It’s a classic catch 22. One of the most frequently asked questions is how do I apply for a job when I haven’t got experience? Well, the good news is that there are ways of getting your first job and gaining experience.

But you also have to accept that there are jobs where an employer must have an experienced person and nothing else will do. Very often this is where they cannot afford the time and expense of training a newcomer. In this case, they’re going to be looking for people who’ve already done the job before and there’s nothing you can do about that.

Work experience

Gaining some work experience isn’t impossible, and it helps to start looking as early as possible.  You need to be proactive. Instead of waiting for a job to be advertised you have to start knocking on doors even when a job isn’t openly available.

Try to find work in organisations and offer your services on a trial, or even a ‘work experience’ basis. Find the name of someone who is in charge of the particular department or outlet you want to work in and write to them. It could be a hairdressers shop, a vet, a factory, or an advertising agency.

Very often, if you show the necessary enthusiasm and aptitude, you’ll be offered some sort of position or at least the promise of a job when a situation arises.

Internships and Graduate Programs

Internships or graduate programs is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time. The company will take in a limited number of people in order to let them gain working experience. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.

Below are only a few examples of these types of programs:

  • Pharmacist Intern.
  • Medical Intern.
  • Purchasing Intern.
  • Finance Intern.
  • Human Resource Intern.
  • Digital Marketing Intern.
  • Social Media Intern.
  • Supply Chain Intern.
  • Logistics Intern.
  • Software Development Intern.

If you are interested you can browse through all the latest internships or graduate programs here


Apprenticeships prepares people to work as a technician or to take up employment in a skilled craft or trade as a tradesperson or artisan. Training takes place in the classroom or on the job site, with students learning trade skills and trade theory from accredited instructors or established professionals. Apprenticeships are usually a longer-term and more formal commitment by a company to take you on and train you under the guidance of the company’s professionals as you work. You are therefore being trained and paid.

Below are only a few examples of these types of programs:

  • Mechanic Apprenticeship.
  • Plumbing Apprenticeship.
  • Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship.
  • Millwright Apprenticeship.
  • Fitter Apprenticeship.
  • Carpentry Apprenticeship.

Writing to an employer that has not advertised a job

There’s nothing to stop you from writing a polite letter to an employer asking if they are willing to let you gain some work experience at their company. Many people have started their whole careers in just such a way.

But whether you are writing to a local newspaper or a retail outlet or a busy office, you need to make sure you find the right person to write to. So you need to do some research first.

Once you’ve got a name, write a good cover letter to explain what you are looking for. It doesn’t have to be long, but it needs to show that you are very enthusiastic and have an interest in their company. You’ll also need to attach your CV.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.”Chris Grosser

As a first-time job seeker, no employer is going to expect you to have a full CV of work experience. This means most of your CV will be made up of your qualifications and education. But that’s no excuse not to try and put together a really good CV. For example, if you did any work experience during the holidays, you’ll be expected to put that on your CV. If you volunteered, then that would also be great to include in your CV.

If you have done anything such as raising money for charity on a sponsored walk; or you have done any community work; or you were given an award for something. These are things that you can put on your first CV to give your potential employer a chance to see what sort of a person you are. In short, you need to put some effort into your first CV to make more of yourself and bring out your qualities.

Just remember that employers are very busy so you should also not put them off by constantly harrasing them for feedback. Read this article on what not to do to turn recruiters off.

Browse through our job vacancies to view any entry-level jobs or apprenticeships and learnership job opportunities at is a free online recruitment site for employers to post job vacancies and for job seekers to find the best jobs in South Africa. Have a look through all our Internship opportunities in South Africa to see if there are any current graduate opportunities that you would like to apply for. Remember that companies do post new jobs every day, so set up job alerts to be notified of any current job postings in South Africa.

If you are a recruiter or a company looking to fill a position, you may post jobs for free on our free online job posting site. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us!

You may also be interested in these articles:

4 tips to get your job application noticed

What to do if you’ve just graduated from university.

What is an apprenticeship?

Get work experience in these 5 ways

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