Getting a foot in the door…


With our unemployment rate sitting at 3.2 percent in February this year, border closures and massive talent shortages, employers are doing it hard right now. That said, I speak to candidates every day who are also frustrated and can’t understand why they can’t get a new job.   

We speak of transferrable skills and exploring different options but how do you get a foot in the door when you have limited experience, perhaps been away from the workforce for several years (parenting, learning, recovering from an illness, etc) or you’re a student wanting to find your first role.   Employers tell us they want experience and that’s fair enough, but many are also reverting to…. “let’s hire for attitude and teach”. Thank goodness!

In my experience the best place to start when you’re coming back into the workforce or starting afresh is to recognise the importance of clarity.  By this I mean, spending time thinking about where you see yourself in the future.  There are oodles of great providers in the Waikato who can help sift through your brain and identify your strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly know the skills and knowledge you’ll need to achieve your goals in the future.   Whether you’re 18 or 58 talking to a career specialist can help guide your next steps which is invaluable. 

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while don’t despair.  Now is the time to shine and show future employers that you are ready to work.  Similarly, if you’re at the end of your career you can still make a significant contribution to the workforce – you may want more flexibility or work part time, but this can generally be accommodated.   So how do you get started?

• Get some help to get your CV updated to present you in the best possible light.  Be overt about your transferrable skills (this is where a career specialist can help you) and list these on the front page of your CV.

• Know your skills, your values, and your interests – this will help you identify companies that fit you.

• Learn how to get prepared for an interview and how to answer those tricky questions that come up – for example, if you’ve been out of the workforce due to illness be upfront about that in your cover letter and explain how you will get back up to speed for your new employer.  Think about refreshing your referees if you’ve been out of the workforce for a period.  Who could speak on your behalf?

• Practice, practice, practice – if you need help to prepare for an interview – ask a friend, a parent, or a recruiter.  

• Explore ways to gain new skills – think about online learning or getting certified in something practical like first aid or forklift.  These things will help you get a foot in the door.

You have plenty to offer and there are opportunities out there.  Sometimes you just need to find the right employer who will give you a chance and support your development. More employers are open to teaching their new hires so if you can show that you’re willing to learn you will become a valued employee in no time at all.


About Author

Senga Allen

Human Resource Specialist and Managing Director, Everest People. Waikato and BOP people and culture specialists. www.everestpeople.co.nz