Job-hunting for young people - 2: "Everyone else has got work experience and I don't - help!"

Continuing this series in which teenage expert Nicola Morgan will cover every aspect of job-hunting from the viewpoint of young people and the adults who care about them

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I remember stressing about this with my daughters when they were coming to the end of school and then during university. One didn’t know what she wanted to be anyway, and was working towards an English degree which would suit her for lots of things but no one obvious thing, and the other wanted to go into the film industry (which is where she now is) but had no idea how to get particularly relevant work experience. Each time they heard of a friend getting an amazing placement somewhere, I think it fuelled the scariness. However, it all worked out, and it seems clear to us now, looking round at everyone we know, that relevant work experience is great if you can get it but not actually essential.

What you should try to do is three things:

1. Get ANY work experience. What employers really want is people who know the “life skills” of work – things like punctuality, willingness, honesty, diligence and respecting whatever the rules and needs of the company are. And you can learn and demonstrate these in any job.

2. Find a good way to explain, if you’re asked, why you didn’t get relevant work experience. For example, you lived in a rural area and couldn’t afford or manage to go into town; you had to work really hard for your exams and you felt it better to focus on that; you had to earn money in the holidays to fund your course, so you needed to get any job you could.

3. In your CV and application, focus on the things you have done, not the things you haven’t.

I’ll come to that in later posts, for example the one on CVs and application letters.

So, stop worrying about not having work experience. Go and get it at the next opportunity but don’t fret about what you haven’t done.

Nicola Morgan

Author and speaker about adolescence, -

Nicola Morgan is a multi-award-winning author for and about teenagers and an renowned speaker at conferences and schools around the world. Her classic book on the teenage brain, BLAME MY BRAIN – THE TEENAGE BRAIN REVEALED, was followed by THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO STRESS and THE TEENAGE GUIDE TO FRIENDS and innovative multimedia teaching resources on the brain and mental health, BRAIN STICKS™, STRESS WELL FOR SCHOOLS and EXAM ATTACK. Her next books are POSITIVELY TEENAGE (May) and LIFE ONLINE (June). She writes articles at