Ask LH: How Can I Get A Job When My Resume Is Completely Blank?

I recently became eligible to enter the workforce but I'm having trouble getting accepted anywhere. Most places only want employees with experience in the field and I've never had a job before. I was wondering if you have any tips on how and where to get a job when your resume is completely blank? Thanks, First Timer.

Resume picture from Shutterstock

Dear FT,

When you say you "recently became eligible", I'm going to assume this means you're around fifteen years old (as opposed to being released from prison or something.)

As a teenager looking to enter the workforce, you don't really need to worry about this. While it's true that many jobs list prior experience as a prerequisite, there are still plenty of junior positions available for fresh-faced workers like yourself. Most applicants who apply for these jobs will be unskilled too, which makes for an even playing field.

If you're still at school and looking for something casual, the hospitality and retail industries are a pretty good bet. These businesses are always on the lookout for young employees to train up, as they are paid substantially less than older workers. As long as you're reliable and a fast learner, your resume credentials won't be particularly important.

It obviously helps if you are willing to work nights and have your own transport (or extremely helpful parents.) All of this should put you in better stead than having a few months' experience on your resume.

It's also important to keep persevering. Your first attempt might end in failure. The same thing might happen on your fifth attempt. But if you keep applying for jobs, your luck should eventually win out.

On a positive note, we are about to enter Christmas season, which is typically the busiest time of the year for hospitality and retail. Subsequently, many businesses will be hiring more casual staff over the next few months.

Make it a habit to regularly trawl job search sites such as Career One, Seek, Australian Jobsearch and Now Hiring. Each of these sites has a pull-down menu that makes it easy to refine your search and find suitable jobs in your area. Naturally, you should also check the listings in your local newspaper and keep an eye out for "work wanted" posters in local eateries and establishments.

Whatever job you apply for, it pays to be aware of your rights and entitlements. Australia has a national minimum wage and you are legally entitled to rest periods after at set number of hours as well as a safe working environment. You can find out more about your entitlements at the Fairwork Ombudsman website. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


    Lie. In an 18pt, double-spaced font.

    Last edited 19/10/15 1:49 pm

    If they have nothing on their resume because they are young then they are fine. Every retail/fast food place wants people under 18 because they pay them $10-15.

    When you say you “recently became eligible”, I’m going to assume this means you’re around fifteen years old
    I read it to mean the OP has just graduated from high school or university.

    I remember being 17 and looking for work without having had a job for the last three years of my life...
    It was pretty surprising how many Maccas and KFC positions insisted on asking for sub-21-yr-olds (still 'juniors') with 'at least three years of experience'.

    Truth is, that's their ideal, not an actual requirement. Apply anyway and you'll probably get an interview. They'll try to talk some shit like uhming and ahhing about how you're not their first choice to establish some kind of unequal relationship, IF they're complete assholes, but they'll take you if they need you.

    Be aware that a lot of places will only want casuals to fill in the one or two days that their regular staff can't make it, or serve as emergency back up in case someone has something on. That's a bitch position and outside of a very limited number of edge cases will very likely NOT turn into the 'something more' that they allude to.

    Retail and hospitality managers are the masters of convincing people to jump through hoops to beg for the scraps of shifts on offer, and using the withholding of shifts as punishment for personal grudges or perceived inability to fit their corporate culture. That exploitative paradigm suits employers very well, and suits pretty much no employee ever. So if your hours ever start to drop, poke around to see if you can get a supervisor or manager down as a reliably positive reference and start looking elsewhere, citing 'reliability of shifts' as your reason for looking.

    On the off-chance that First Timer isn't a junior and has some other life circumstances that have meant not needing to have a job until recently, it's still not too bad. Not AS easy as being a teenager, but there are definitely other things you can do.

    First of all, sign up with multiple recruitment agencies. And I'm not talking about the JobNetwork providers like Sarina Russo or Employment Plus or whatever the salvos' one is... also get yourself signed up with Manpower, Skilled, Randstad, all those sorts.

    Thing about jobs is that they're not all advertised on Seek, and not all the JobNetwork providers have access to every available job. If you limit yourself to only the agencies Centrelink tells you about, you're only seeing a fraction of the jobs out there.

    A lot of folks don't know that many companies and government agencies only advertise their jobs on their own corporate websites or recruit through a limited selection of third-party recruitment agencies, who in turn only offer those jobs to the candidates they have signed up in their pool.
    So sign up for all of them.

    Some have a difference in their focus... Randstad is more corporate admin, Skilled and Manpower are more engineering and labouring. And don't just settle for sending in a resume to 'keep on file' if you can press for more. That's bullshit speak for, "We've got enough candidates already. You'll never hear from us again." You want to ask about getting a skill check and an interview. Engage with your provider. If they won't do that, they're not worth pinning your hopes on. If someone says they just don't think they can sell you to their contracts, value their honesty, take it graciously and keep their name in mind for when you improve - straight-shooters are rare in HR.

    I remember applying for a Maccas job when I was 19 and being told I was a little old.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now