Never Worked Before? Find Your First Job with These Tips


“What’s your advice for someone who has never worked before? How do I get job training?” – Marco from Claremont, CA


First, know that even if you haven’t “officially” worked, you still have valuable skills and experience!  Think about:

  • School and internships
  • Household responsibilities
  • Volunteering and community involvement
  • Informal self-employment (yard work, child care, etc.)
  • Hobbies
  • Work done while incarcerated

The process for getting a job isn’t that different, whether your skills and experience are from paid work or not, though it can be a little harder to get that first job.

  1. First, figure out what kind of career you want. Assess your skills and interests online or with help from your local Goodwill or OneStop center to find careers that might be a good fit for you.

  3. Next, figure out if you have the qualifications for entry-level jobs in the field you are interested in. Compare the skills and experience you have with what is required for entry-level jobs in the career area you are interested in using a tool like MyNextMove or by looking at job ads.  Also check out this list of common entry-level jobs that require little or no prior training or work experience.

  5. Get training if you need it. If you need more training to get the kind of job you want, check with your local Goodwill, OneStop, or community college – and see this post for more info on getting into job training programs at community colleges.  Remember –almost everyone needs to start in an entry-level job, but you don’t have to stay there; look at jobs along the career path (PDF) you’re interested in and make plans to get there in the future.

  7. If you’re ready for an entry level job – or you need a “survival” job while you train for the career you really want – get your job search materials together and start applying for jobs. You should have a résumé with your skills and experience, a  list of references and a cover letter. You should also be sure you have an email address and a phone number with voicemail or an answering machine where employers can contact you. You should also know how to:

If you need help, ask your local Goodwill, or your OneStop – or use online tools like GCFLearnFree, GoodProspects and the links above.  If you’re a teenager, check out these tips for teen job seekers.

5. And get “plugged in” while you search.

    • It’s easier to get a job if you already have a job – whether it’s a paid one or not.  Find volunteer opportunities through VolunteerMatch – you’ll get experience, references and maybe even a job offer.
    • Sign up with a staffing company – temporary work is experience you can put on your resume, it can turn into a permanent job, and it brings in income.

Treat searching for a job like a job – put in time every day.  Remember that everyone has to start somewhere.  And then get prepared to succeed in your first job!