Centred Content

Dear Joanna

Is work experience really required for getting a job as an office clerk? I am a recent graduate of a local high school and had a work experience placement. As soon as Covid19 is under control, I will be looking for paid employment Feedback from my Reena job coach is that I need to gain some related experience to be hired for office clerk jobs. What is going on here?

Signed: Inexperienced Job Seeker

Centred Content

Dear IJS

Great question and definitely a major concern of many job seekers like yourself who are new grads looking for their first paid job in the competitive labour market. Feedback from employers and Reena job coaches confirms that although relevant experience is important for getting your first paid job, there are some exceptions.  For example, if you have specific hard/technical skills that are in demand in your field, the employer might give you a break and hire you. However, in general, it’s best for you to tackle this obstacle by considering these five (5)  suggestions from the Reena job coaches and https://www.ef.com/wwen/blog/language/11-tips-for-getting-a-job-without-experience/ on how to gain work experience for your resume and job search:

  1. Educate yourself.Find out from the job postings which hard and technical skills are required for an office clerk. Then start learning the ones you don’t have; and improving the ones that you do. Take classes, attend workshops, get certificates and diplomas, learn from Youtube videos and Linkedin Learning. You can do all of this virtually during Covid. This is how you can gain knowledge for the job. This looks great on the resume under “Education & Professional Development” as it shows your dedication and commitment to your employment/career goal. Plus: teachers and fellow students are a great way to start and expand your network.
  2. Volunteer Another way to get some experience in a specific area is to find a volunteer opportunity (remotely during Covid) or at a safe placement site. This is a fantastic strategy to help you get your foot in the door and get hands-on-training too. You can volunteer, intern or freelance to get hands-on training and a reference too. All of these volunteer experiences are relevant and valid – add this to your resume.
  3. The most popular way to get a job is to be recommended by a friend and/or family member for a job opportunity. For this to happen, you need to start meeting different professionals in your field in an information interview, attending job fairs and employer events in addition to letting everyone know in your contact list that you are looking for work as an “office clerk”. Learn everything there is to know about the industry and the job. You can use social media – especially LinkedIn – to build your network, apply for jobs
  4. Prepare and update your resume. This is a perfect time to start building your resume and cover letter. Focus on your talents, strengths and skills that you do have and can contribute to the job. Work with your job coach in Reena’s community participation program. There are other employment supports in the community that offer free assistance with your job search.
  5. Focus on the soft and transferrable skills.Transferable skills can be transferred from one situation or job to another and show how you interact with people. Examples of these soft skills are listening skills, time management skills, team work skills and  organizational skills. Your first resume is a chance for you to show off your soft / transferrable skills. Show the hiring managers that your soft skills make it easier for you to learn a particular skills on the job.

So IJS, I have chosen only five suggestions. If you’d like to get more information on this topic, including additional tips, you can find countless blogs on the internet.


To submit your questions and comments to this column IN CONFIDENCE, please email jsamuels@reena.org