How to Gain Relevant Job Experience to Jumpstart Your Career Journey

Gaining relevant experience is crucial for securing a job in today’s competitive job market. Many job seekers, especially recent graduates and career switchers, face the challenge of lacking the required experience that employers seek. This guide aims to provide actionable strategies for gaining relevant experience to help you jumpstart your career journey.

Understanding What Relevant Experience Means

Definition of Relevant Experience

Relevant experience refers to the skills and knowledge acquired through various activities that directly relate to the job you are applying for. It aligns with the job descriptions and industry needs, showcasing your capability to perform the tasks required in your desired role.

Importance of Aligning Experience with Job Descriptions

Matching your experience with job descriptions ensures that you meet the specific requirements of the role, making you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

Examples of Different Types of Relevant Experience

  • Internships: Short-term positions that offer hands-on experience in a professional setting.
  • Volunteer Work: Unpaid work that provides valuable skills and experience.
  • Freelance Projects: Independent work that allows you to build a portfolio.
  • Part-time Jobs: Positions that offer transferable skills applicable to your desired career.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Benefits of Internships and Apprenticeships

Internships and apprenticeships provide hands-on experience, mentorship, and networking opportunities that are invaluable for career growth.

How to Find and Apply for Internships/Apprenticeships

  • Job Boards: Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.
  • University Career Centers: Resources provided by educational institutions.
  • Networking: Leveraging professional connections to uncover opportunities.

Tips for Making the Most Out of These Opportunities

  • Be Proactive: Take initiative and seek out learning opportunities.
  • Build Relationships: Network with colleagues and supervisors.
  • Reflect and Document: Keep track of your accomplishments and learnings.

Volunteering and Community Involvement

How Volunteering Can Provide Valuable Skills and Experience

Volunteering offers practical experience, helps develop soft skills, and demonstrates a commitment to community service.

Finding Volunteer Opportunities That Align with Career Goals

  • Nonprofits: Organizations related to your field of interest.
  • Community Centers: Local organizations needing various skill sets.
  • Online Platforms: Websites like VolunteerMatch and Idealist.

Ways to Highlight Volunteer Experience on a Resume

  • Detail Accomplishments: Focus on achievements and contributions.
  • Relate Skills to Job Requirements: Align volunteer tasks with job skills.
  • Include Metrics: Use numbers to quantify your impact.

Freelance and Contract Work

Advantages of Freelancing for Skill Development

Freelancing allows you to gain diverse experience, build a portfolio, and develop time management and client relations skills.

How to Find Freelance or Contract Gigs

  • Freelance Websites: Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.
  • Networking: Ask for referrals from your professional network.
  • Cold Outreach: Contact potential clients directly with a proposal.

Building a Portfolio Through Freelance Projects

  • Showcase Variety: Display a range of projects to highlight versatility.
  • Detail Processes: Explain your role and the steps you took in each project.
  • Client Testimonials: Include feedback and reviews from satisfied clients.

Continuing Education and Certifications

Importance of Staying Current with Industry Trends and Skills

Continuous learning ensures you remain competitive and up-to-date with industry advancements.

Types of Continuing Education Options

  • Online Courses: Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Workshops: Short-term, intensive learning experiences.
  • Certifications: Accredited programs that validate specific skills.

How to Choose the Right Courses and Programs

  • Relevance: Ensure the course aligns with your career goals.
  • Accreditation: Select courses from reputable institutions.
  • Reviews and Outcomes: Consider feedback from past participants.

Networking and Informational Interviews

Leveraging Professional Networks to Gain Insights and Opportunities

Networking can lead to job referrals, mentorship, and industry insights.

Conducting Informational Interviews to Learn About Industry Expectations

  • Identify Professionals: Use LinkedIn to find industry experts.
  • Prepare Questions: Focus on career paths, challenges, and advice.
  • Follow Up: Send a thank-you note and keep in touch.

Following Up and Building Lasting Professional Relationships

  • Stay Connected: Regularly engage with your network.
  • Offer Value: Share relevant information and resources.
  • Be Genuine: Build relationships based on mutual respect and interest.

Part-time and Temporary Jobs

Using Part-time or Temporary Positions to Gain Relevant Experience

Part-time and temporary jobs provide practical experience and can lead to full-time opportunities.

Finding Roles That Offer Transferable Skills

  • Job Boards: Search for part-time and temp positions on job sites.
  • Staffing Agencies: Agencies that specialize in temporary placements.
  • Company Websites: Look for openings directly on company career pages.

Strategies for Transitioning from Temporary to Permanent Positions

  • Excel in Your Role: Demonstrate reliability and excellence.
  • Express Interest: Let supervisors know you’re interested in permanent positions.
  • Network Internally: Build relationships within the organization.

Starting Personal Projects or Side Hustles

How Personal Projects Can Showcase Skills and Initiative

Personal projects demonstrate creativity, problem-solving, and dedication.

Ideas for Relevant Side Projects Related to Desired Careers

  • Blogs or Vlogs: Content creation relevant to your industry.
  • Apps or Websites: Develop digital projects showcasing technical skills.
  • Art and Design: Create portfolios for creative careers.

Documenting and Presenting Project Outcomes

  • Detail Process: Explain the steps taken and skills used.
  • Highlight Achievements: Focus on the results and impact of the project.
  • Include Visuals: Use images, videos, or screenshots to showcase your work.

Leveraging Social Media and Online Platforms

Creating an Online Presence That Demonstrates Expertise

An active online presence can enhance your professional brand and showcase your expertise.

Using Platforms Like LinkedIn to Connect with Industry Professionals

  • Optimize Your Profile: Highlight skills, experience, and accomplishments.
  • Engage with Content: Share and comment on industry-related posts.
  • Join Groups: Participate in LinkedIn groups related to your field.

Sharing Content and Participating in Industry-Related Discussions

  • Write Articles: Share insights and knowledge through LinkedIn articles.
  • Post Regularly: Keep your network updated with relevant content.
  • Respond and Engage: Actively participate in discussions to build visibility.

Mentorship and Coaching

Finding Mentors in the Industry for Guidance and Advice

Mentors provide valuable insights, support, and professional growth opportunities.

Benefits of Having a Mentor or Coach

  • Guidance: Receive advice on career decisions and challenges.
  • Networking: Gain access to a mentor’s professional network.
  • Skill Development: Improve through feedback and learning opportunities.

How to Establish and Maintain a Mentorship Relationship

  • Identify Potential Mentors: Look for experienced professionals in your field.
  • Approach Respectfully: Clearly explain why you’re seeking mentorship.
  • Be Committed: Show dedication and appreciation for your mentor’s time.

Gaining relevant experience is a pivotal step in jumpstarting your career journey. By proactively seeking out internships, volunteering, freelancing, continuing education, networking, part-time jobs, personal projects, social media engagement, and mentorship, you can build a strong foundation of experience that sets you apart in the job market. Remember, persistence and dedication are key. The long-term benefits of building relevant experience will pave the way for your professional success.


For 35 plus years, Job Skills has been delivering solutions to job seekers and moving people into sustainable, meaningful employment. Throughout their long history, Job Skills has recognized that not every job seeker is the same. There is no one size fits all employment program. That’s why the Job Skills vision is building an inclusive society where all people are ensured equitable opportunities to fulfill their career aspirations and participate fully in the community.

Job Skills’ employment specialists are there to answer any of your employment questions. Job Skills‘ staff offer solutions to all job seekers, including youth, newcomers, mature workers, persons with disabilities, and entrepreneurs. Job Skills’ knowledgeable team can help you make educated decisions, set goals, and create a strategy to help you become happier in your career. Job Skills works with local employers creating employment opportunities for Job Skills’ clients.

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