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Aaron Bolyard
Member #7,537
July 2006

Hey everyone,

I've been trying to get a job for about a month. However, I have no professional experience (be it in any job [and being 22, it's rather bizarre I guess?]). Locally, I've tried a bunch of different fields, from grocery stores to customer service, but it's not been any success. I guess having a bunch of computer skills and not much else is rather... disconcerting. Noting that I read Shakespeare (and tons of other classics but that doesn't matter) for fun isn't relevant nor useful, and would probably scare more of them off, haha (among other useless skills of mine).

Not to get too personal, but I've been taking care of my mom, who recently passed. With her passing, our stable income is now $0. Taking care of her is the major reason I've unable to get a job since high school (and also the reason I've been unable to attend college in the mean time). I guess valuing the comfort of a sick family member over oneself is not the wisest choice in this day and age.

What I'm looking for is advice. I would prefer a job where I could apply the skills I have, but in the town I live in, that's not an option (Fayetteville, NC). I've looked at freelancing in the mean time but I don't know much about it and it seems like you need contacts unless you try and compete on those freelance websites (which I don't feel like I trust, they rub me wrong, I guess).

I don't know what questions to ask other than this: what's a good way of going about getting a job? Ideally I'd prefer something full time, but I doubt that's likely, so I'd need about two part time jobs to ensure I can pay rent, utilities, food, other bills... But, given my luck so far, that doesn't seem so possible. My brother recently graduated from high school this year and I am going to try my damndest to ensure he goes off to college by spring. He's not going to miss the opportunity like I did. (To clarify, my brother and I lived with our mom, but with her passing, it's just us two).

Thanks for any advice.

Member #7,719
August 2006

Have you gotten in for any interviews yet? I know a big part of getting an interview is how your résumé is set up. I hardly have any experience getting jobs, but you could probably post a résumé to critique if getting interviews is proving difficult. I wish I had more experience so I could give you better advice, but I'll leave that to the other members of the forum ;).

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Member #7,536
July 2006

The keys to getting a job are:

  • Outward facing friendly-confidence (look people in the eye, smile, relax, communicate effectively). You want people to enjoy your presence when you hand in your résumé, during a phone call, or during an in-person interview, etc. Confidence is strong and attractive. Self-consciousness is weak and unattractive. Even on the phone, smile and try to be confident. They will hear it in your voice. Being friendly is important because confidence can be intimidating. Combining confidence with friendliness makes you feel like a strong ally instead of a strong enemy.

  • A clean résumé that is easy to read, clearly states all the relevant points, and puts you in the best light possible without actually lying. Almost lying, or being misleading, is technically fair game. The competition is probably doing it and there's no penalty for getting caught. The role of a résumé is filter the candidates down to a number that the employer has time to filter in person, and you want to make the cut without sabotaging your interview.

If you're lucky your people skills or résumé will get you an interview. Again, outward facing confidence is important. Don't outright lie, but don't be too honest either. For one thing, you probably don't realize how much you're capable of yet, and for another your expectations may be higher than theirs and you don't want to sabotage yourself unnecessarily.

Feel free to attach a résumé if you want some friendly criticism. Otherwise, just practice being friendly and confident.

Like you I didn't get a job until I was in my 20's. It's a little bit weird, but it's not really a problem. The best way to get a job is through somebody that you know. Family, friends, or an acquaintance. Anybody that knows you and likes you and is willing to call in a favor or give you a chance.

As for the freelancing thing, if I knew how to do that I would. You could just go for it, but that will probably mean you will struggle for a while. If you persist though you will probably persevere and in the end it may be worthwhile. I can't say.

Wanting to send your brother to college is a noble thing, but take care in doing so. You have zero work experience, presumably little or no money, presumably only a high school diploma, and currently no job. That is an extremely tall order. Before he goes to college he should make sure he knows what he wants to do and make sure it's right for him. College isn't cheap, and especially in the USA it seems you can end up deep in debt without any actual employable skills afterward... Regardless of where you are, you can go through college and come out without any employable skills, or being employed at barely over minimum wage barely better off than no college at all. College is not a magic pill. It may be better for your brother to help out with paying bills instead... Work experience might be good for him too, and it might lessen the burden on you (you aren't that much older than him, and by legal definitions he is essentially an adult very soon).

In the US there is always military service for those built for it... That might be something to consider, albeit, there are debates to have about the morality of it... Allegedly it is a good opportunity, but I can't speak from experience. It is nonetheless something to consider.

Since you're here on I imagine you're somewhat shy and awkward and somewhat of a computer geek loner (like most of us). If that is the case then you will need to work on that. Let us know so we can direct you with our own personal experience...


The key to finding any kind of job (i.e, minimum wage jobs) is just peppering your city with resumes until an interview leads to a job. Don't worry if you screw up or fail. That is part of life. It's normal. You will learn from it and do better next time. And just because you aren't called or aren't hired doesn't even mean you failed. People are very biased and there are millions of variables involved in things like this... You can't worry about what other people do. Only do your best to be your best, and try to learn tricks to stack the odds in your favor.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005

In my experience, resumes (never had one, but job applications are the boilerplate equivalent) aren't worth spit. When I've gotten a job, it's because I really need it and they can tell by my attitude. Whenever I go in with a "meh" attitude, thinking to get a job that's better than the one I have, I never get hired.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Member #562
July 2000

It's been a while since I've been looking at jobs that require no experience -- but I don't think that you typically supply a resume for such things. You instead fill out an application that they provide.

bamccaig said:

The best way to get a job is through somebody that you know. Family, friends, or an acquaintance. Anybody that knows you and likes you and is willing to call in a favor or give you a chance.

I will second this. With the exception of one job I've had, everything else I've gotten through people I already knew.


College is not a magic pill.

Also seconded. College isn't for everyone. I've known too many people who either didn't finish, got a degree with no career goals, or otherwise just weren't cut out for jobs in the fields their degrees were in. Yet they were still saddled with all that debt.

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Member #10,271
October 2008

The freelance websites have chicken and egg syndrome IMO. Often you will not be considered for a decent sized job until your profile is well padded with jobs... which you can't get because you don't have a well padded profile. This leaves you doing jobs for peanuts for quite some time. I have years of experience, but my elance profile is bare bones. :p Elance, for one, is not a scam, but they do take a sizable percentage of your earnings.

Gideon Weems
Member #3,925
October 2003

I had three interviews this week. I had scheduled five, but the first three went so well, I passed on the remaining two. All three interviews resulted in offers, and if I had to say why, I'd say it was because I am a pretty awesome guy.

It's weird, though: I walked into those interviews knowing that, if I didn't have a new job by the end of the week, I'd probably be deported. Yet at the same time, I really didn't care if anyone hired me. I felt above them somehow. I suppose this is because I am a pretty awesome guy.

Now I am stuck with deciding which job I want. In addition, I am considering moving overseas.

Advice for Aaron: I do not know where you are coming from, but if you are like I was before I had any work experience, you are socially awkward. You feel as though people in the workforce have or know something that you do not (and because you are arrogant, you feel as if that something may be a defect). You then land your first job, realize that average schmucks run the world, and have a good laugh at how ignorant you were. This gives you confidence, and every job interview for the rest of your life results in a pleasant experience.

You're a good person. I am glad to hear you took care of your mom until the end, and I'm sure she's proud of you.

The world isn't perfect yet, and most people require money in order to support their lives. There will come a day when people realize how backwards this is, like they did with slavery or the four bodily humors. In the meantime, good luck.

Member #2,030
March 2002


Move to the Democratic People's Republic of Vivendi Universal (formerly known as Sweden) - officially democracy- and privacy-free since 2008-06-18!

Dizzy Egg
Member #10,824
March 2009

I agree with Bam, maybe show us your resume for critique; one thing I would say is don't be backward in coming forward about not being in work due to looking after your mum. That kind of selflessness should go a long way.

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Member #14,001
February 2012

^ this.

You clearly have quality, so do not lose any confidence.


StevenVI said:

I will second this. With the exception of one job I've had, everything else I've gotten through people I already knew.

It helps having the so-called 'network', but for a no experience job you can also keep on trying on sheer numbers and get something out.


This gives you confidence, and every job interview for the rest of your life results in a pleasant experience.

Good Gideon has spoken wise words.

It is unlikely that Google shares your distaste for capitalism. - Derezo
If one had the eternity of time, one would do things later. - Johan Halmén

Aaron Bolyard
Member #7,537
July 2006

Have you gotten in for any interviews yet?

Nope :(. After not hearing from the places I've applied at, I contacted them and it turns out they've already hired someone [before I even applied]. They also said try again in a few weeks... so I'll see how that goes if necessary.

bamccaig said:

Wanting to send your brother to college is a noble thing, but take care in doing so.

I'm sure college would cost nothing at our income (and him attending a local college). I understand college isn't a magic pill, but so it goes.

furinkan said:

The freelance websites have chicken and egg syndrome IMO.

That's the feeling I got.

Thanks everyone for the comments, I'll read the posts again soon and give a more in-depth reply soon enough.

Member #6,152
August 2005

Echoing sentiments of the others above...but first, let me give you a digital pat on the back. In your situation, you have no choice but to move forward and get stuff done and minimize wallowing in how bad the situation actually is. What you've had to do sounds incredibly challenging, so I salute you in your efforts and hope stability is on your horizon.

Young and jobless is a difficult bubble to pop. I see many struggling through it now (my sister is one). But your stable income should NOT be $0. Go to your local government workforce, get a case worker, and explain your situation. It's going to be a painfully dull 4 hours of paperwork, but it's something you can do immediately that might give you a little (much needed) aid.

Next, your resume is of very little value. It has done very little for me. It's wise to tighten it up and you can certainly blast it out with little thought, but if you're waiting on an employer to come back to you after sending it, then your searching incorrectly.

Making any kind of connection is the key. Even if all you can manage is to get someone on the phone, that helps (although face-to-face is always preferred). Going back to the grocery store and saying "can I speak to the manager?" might give you the little face time you need. And if they can't help you, the might be able to put in a call or give you advice.

Before that, however, look for technical consulting firms that interview for you. They'll test your technical skills and find a job for you. They might bounce you around local contract jobs for a while, but the on-job experience is worth it.

Again, good luck!

------------ | My Tech Blog: The Digital Helm

Member #1,666
April 2001

There are two primary ways to get a job. You can spend your time looking at job postings (online or locally on job boards) and sending out resumes, or spend your time networking.

Networking can be more difficult, and time consuming, but it is far more rewarding (and can be a lot of fun). If you go to places where your skills are an asset, shake everyone's hand and introduce yourself, the potential for opportunity grows every time.

When I go to a new business, a new social function, or even just a community event, I introduce myself and tell people what I do. I've gotten jobs by walking into a cake shop and buying a cupcake, and even found a real estate contract through a local incense retailer.

9 times out of 10 it's just a casual conversation and nothing happens, but often enough people will say "Oh! I need you so bad! My computer just died on me" or "My friend is looking for someone like you! I'll give him your number". There are also actual networking functions, like "LinkedIn Luncheons" and your local chamber of commerce (or similar group). You pass around business cards and collect a bunch of others, follow up with them if you had a meaningful conversation, or even just fire off an email telling them you enjoyed meeting them at the function.

Having said all that, you can also go to a local employment center. They will help tailor your resume for the industry you're targeting, expose you to new ways of job searching, and more. My worker applied to a couple unlisted jobs for me, and I have an interview on Monday.

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

Aaron Bolyard
Member #7,537
July 2006

I've known how contacts are useful, but I never realized I had quite a few gateways at my disposal...

I'm emailing/calling friends/family that do know a lot of people and seeing how they can help me from there. Heck, my uncle happens to run a pretty well-known custom metal place down in south FL (by well-known, he does work for lots of rich people), and a teacher of mine from elementary school (who is a family friend) may be able to help as well.

Thanks again for the advice everyone.

Thomas Fjellstrom
Member #476
June 2000

Yeah, that is a pretty good way to go. Ask people :) but it doesn't hurt to go randomly throw out resumes.

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Member #8,789
June 2007

Onewing said:

Before that, however, look for technical consulting firms that interview for you. They'll test your technical skills and find a job for you. They might bounce you around local contract jobs for a while, but the on-job experience is worth it.

Yep. I don't know what the situation is like where you live, but over here if you can program but have no connections, the best way to get a job is via an employment agency[1].
If you are looking for any job (as opposed to a technical job) then reaching out to as many places and people possible is a good idea, as well as the "Employment Service" (i.e. "local employment center").


  1. And even if you have connections, this can sometimes work out better
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