Why is work experience a good idea?
Work experience is a really good idea because...
- Work experience isn’t scary (honest)
- There are loads of different ways to find it
- It’s one of these 14 great ways to make yourself more employable
Work experience can be AMAZING for:
- Making employers sit up and take notice of your CV
- Boosting your confidence and positivity (it’s always better to keep busy and feel wanted)
- Broadening your career and life experience (hey, you can build new skills and maybe discover a whole new bunch of jobs and activities you’d enjoy!)
Work experience gives you the chance to add more of the experience you need to the career section of your CV and application forms. It also gives you a referee, or a professional person who’s willing to vouch for you, which employers often ask for. When doing work experience you’ll get to see how your skills fit into the workplace. You’re also showing the employer what skills you already have!
Movement to Work is a collaboration among employers which offers experience and training to young people with some of the U.K.’s top employers. You can find out more here or by asking your Jobcentre Plus work coach.
How do you get work experience while claiming benefit?
Did you know you can get work experience through Jobcentre Plus? You'll need to be:
- 18-24 years old
- Claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit (you can take part from week 13 of your Jobseeker’s Allowance claim)
Hot tip: You can also carry on reading to watch the video at the end...
How to find work experience in your area
Find the work experience yourself
You can shop around yourself to find work experience with a suitable employer. If you find an employer yourself this way, remember to let your Jobcentre work coach know before you start! The Jobcentre needs to make sure the employer is suitable before you can begin.
Ask your Jobcentre work coach for help
Another option is to chat to your Jobcentre work coach. They can tell you what’s available locally, and they can also get in touch with local employers to see if they’re interested in offering work experience.
Next steps: Making the work experience opportunity happen
Depending on the employer, you might have to go through an application process once you or your Jobcentre work coach have found a cool opportunity. What’s an application process? Well, it might mean filling in an application form or going to meet them in person and have a semi-formal job interview.
How long should the work experience last?
Aim for 2-8 weeks
Any work experience achieved through Jobcentre Plus lasts for two to eight weeks. You’ll be asked to do 25 to 30 hours a week (unless you’ve already agreed different hours with your Jobcentre work coach).
The money bit
How does Jobcentre work experience affect my benefit?
You’ll normally still sign on, attend Jobcentre meetings and be actively looking for work. It’s OK, your employer will know this and your Jobcentre work coach may be able to set your meeting times to fit in around your work experience. All this means that you’ll still be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (or Universal Credit, which works a bit differently, so talk to your work coach about the possibilities). Visit the Jobcentre's page to learn more.
What if I get an apprenticeship offer?
Sometimes, if the work experience goes really well, your employer will offer you an apprenticeship on the spot! That could be amazing for you, and if you take up the offer you can do an extra four weeks of work experience while the employer crosses the t’s and dots the i’s on the apprenticeship paperwork. (The money bit: If this happens, you’ll keep getting benefit for the extra weeks of work experience).
What is doing work experience like?
Keeping busy in your working day
Your experience can change a lot depending on where you do it. Some examples might include working in an office, warehouse, retail shop or restaurant. In some jobs you might be sitting down a lot or using a computer (like in an office). In other jobs you might be handling money under supervision (in a restaurant or retail store, for instance). Then again, you might be on your feet and active in a warehouse or restaurant!
Showing off the skills you have
Doing work experience is your chance to shine! Whatever qualities you have to show to employers, there are some skills they want to see in ALL jobs:
- Attendance (showing up when you’re expected to)
- Timekeeping (being on time and even early)
- Personal hygiene and appearance (especially in a restaurant, but being clean and neat is always seen as a plus)
- Following any special employer rules like Health & Safety
- Positive attitude
If you can show employers you’ve mastered these qualities and skills (known as soft skills), you can put them on your CV and tell employers about them in future job interviews!
What if I get a job?
Ah, the final bit, and the icing on the cake… what if you GET A JOB?
Since you’re still looking for work, it might be because your job hunt paid off elsewhere… or maybe the employer you did work experience decided you were way too good to lose!
However that job falls in your lap, contact your Jobcentre work coach to let them know and…
If doing work experience while claiming benefit sounds like it could work for you, you can always contact your Jobcentre. Remember - a bit of work experience can always lead to bigger and better things!