12/11/2013 09:01 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

How Am I Supposed to Get Experience Without a Job in the First Place?

"Oh, that jobs needs experience you say? How am I supposed to get that without someone giving me a job in the first place!"

Does this situation sound familiar to you? It's the classic Catch-22 for countless young people trying to enter the job market every year.


Whilst this is a huge problem for many it's not the end of the world. I should know. I had the exact same problem not too long ago. It wasn't a great time in my life if I'm honest. I'd just had the best four years of my life at university but I'd just missed out on the grade I'd needed for that fancy corporate job in the city. Dreams had shattered into a thousand pieces. Once I'd pulled myself back together it was then onto the slog of sending out countless CVs, reaching out and basically becoming well acquainted with the sour taste of rejection.

Don't worry though as I'm going to share some practical things you can be doing to break the Catch-22 and land that dream job of yours, or even create it.

Hey, it worked for me.

Start a blog

Whatever industry you're looking to break into then I'd highly recommend that you start a blog. Start putting together opinions and thoughts about the sector and share them with the world. No one might read it to begin with and that's fine. The point is to practice how to communicate yourself effectively and writing makes you really think about how to do this. I set up a blog and started commenting on technology trends and startups. It showed that I had an opinion, could communicate and really cared about what was going on in the industry. It was one of the reasons I got into the startup space and has proved to be an invaluable skill to have.

Get Networking

The one thing I'd wish I'd known starting university is how important your network is. When it comes to finding jobs or potential opportunities this is essential. It can mean that if you don't have the right grades someone can vouch for you on the inside. Most people just need a chance to show what they can do and sometimes a quick word from a friend can be that chance.

So my advice is to go on sites like Meetup and find events going on near you. Get involved, start a conversation and make some friends. I'm an introvert at heart and found this difficult to begin with but if you don't throw yourself our there you're not going to get noticed.

It is exactly this proactive approach that will make you stand out whilst everyone else is sat home eating cereal and watching TV.

Create your own job

An alternative route that you might not have thought of is that you don't have to take a job, you can create one. It has never been easier to set up a startup than it is today. The question is, have you got an idea thats been burning in the back of your mind? If so there are loads of brilliant initiatives to help young entrepreneurs to get their ideas off the ground. I'd check out places like StartUp LoansNACUE and Youth Business International for support and funding.

I'm a big advocate of young entrepreneurs and one of the biggest barriers to this route I come across is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of being judged. Screw fear.

Being an entrepreneur can be like jumping off a cliff and trying to assemble the plane on the way down.

Its scary but it's one hell of a rush.

Start freelancing

One of the mistakes I made when first starting out was to think that the only jobs going were those in big corporates. Its where all graduates go right? Wrong. There are so many brilliant small but growing businesses that need incredible young people but might not have a full time contract available. My advice is to test the water by freelancing. Can you code or design? Then reach out to local businesses. The key thing is to highlight where you can add value.

There are also sites like Concept Cupboard and Coding Cupboard aimed at students & graduates to help you find your first few clients.

Stay hungry

If there is one trait that I look for in people, and one that I'd wish that I'd developed earlier, is hunger. Not in the literal sense, but in the sense that you yearn to keep on learning, keep getting stronger, to keep moving forward.

Its tough to get started but once you do you'll be on track to change your life.

BONUS TIP: Thanks for reading this far, I'll share an extra tip just for you.

Find out what skills are in serious demand at the moment and where the industry growth is. You should be able to find out this via government reports or the press.

For example, in the UK there is a huge digital skills gap. So many businesses need people who can code and not enough people have this skillset. Seriously, learn to code and you'll not just get a job but also have a brilliant skill that allows you to create whatever you want.

It's funny how things work out. When I was 21 I was demoralised, depressed and had a sense of worth that could only be found by a microscope. Now I'm 24. I run a startup that I love, I've moved to London and met some truly inspiring people. If you're struggling to work out how to move forward and break the Catch-22 then get in touch with me on twitter. I can be found at @AdamJBall.