Standing out without work experience | How to get work experience | Youth Central

It can be hard to get a job if you have no work experience.

There are some things you can do to get work experience, even if you haven’t worked in a paying job yet. These things will help you stand out without work experience.


You can volunteer for community and not-for-profit organisations. Our what is volunteering page has some ideas on how to get started. It’s good to choose an organisation that you believe in, and an activity that you enjoy.

Volunteering helps you demonstrate that you have:

  • teamwork skills
  • communication skills
  • organisational skills.

It also shows you have initiative and a willingness to make a positive contribution.

Make sure you ask the volunteer coordinator or your supervisor if they will be a referee for you. Write down their contact details.

Work experience

Most schools, universities and TAFEs offer work experience or industry placement programs. This is where you spend time in a real workplace, doing unpaid work.

Doing this type of work experience can give you the same skills as you would get in a paid job. Our work experience can let you know about opportunities to get work experience.

Ask your work experience supervisor if they will be a referee for you. Write down their contact details.

You can also visit our pages on:

The Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth initiatives help unemployed people aged 15 to 24 to improve their skills and hopefully increase their chances of finding jobs. The scheme may also contribute towards meeting a person’s Centrelink mutual obligation requirements.

Many local councils also offer work experience positions to help you get some experience. Find your local council, and then do an internet search for ‘work experience’ and your council’s name.

Competitions and awards

By participating in awards or competitions, you demonstrate a positive attitude and a willingness to work towards your goals – even if you don’t win.

If you win or receive recognition for your efforts, this will stand out on your resume and boost your confidence.

Some examples include:

  • the annual Australian Training Awards promote and reward the outstanding achievements of apprentices, trainees and VET students.
  • the WorldSkills Australia trade competitions are held at local, national and international levels. The competitions showcase and celebrate apprentices' and trainees' skills
  • Screen It is a national moving image competition that challenges primary and secondary school students to make videogames, animations or live action films
  • Heywire is digital storytelling competition for young people aged 16–22 in regional Victoria. The winner gets to work with ABC staff to professionally produce their story
  • the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge, where students in Years 5–12 develop a model Formula 1 racing car as part of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition
  • the John Marsden & Hachette Australia Prize for Young Writers for Australian secondary school students, with work in three categories – fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Community involvement

Being involved in your community shows employers that you have developed valuable skills such as teamwork, commitment and responsibility.

Putting your hand up to help out in your community can seem daunting at first. But try it and see if you like it. You get to decide what you feel comfortable doing, and how much time you can devote.

If you notice an interesting event, group or project happening near you, find out the contact details of the person organising it. Get in touch with them, and ask if you can help. They’ll be pleased to hear from you!

There are lots of things to get involved in.

For example, you could:

  • get involved with a conservation group
  • get politically active 
  • join a local community garden
  • join a volunteer organisation 
  • volunteer at a community radio station
  • volunteer to work at a community event, like a local arts or sports festival, or an event that interests you
  • help out on a fundraising sausage sizzle
  • get involved at your place of worship
  • join a local sporting team, or even coach a younger team. 

As well as building skills such as teamwork, communication skills and learning from role models, this is a great way to expand your network. The bigger your network, the more chances you have to find out about work opportunities.

School projects

If you're a recent secondary school or tertiary student, you’ve probably done group projects that involve:

  • being organised
  • using teamwork
  • managing time
  • research skills
  • communication and presentation skills.

Make sure you highlight these experiences in your resume when you apply for a job.

Research the job and the employer

Another way to stand out from other applicants is to show you have researched the employer and the job.

This demonstrates initiative, enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Our what to research before a job interview  page can let you find out more about ways to research an employer.