Climb the Ladder

How to Use a Side Hustle to Get the Experience You Need for Your Dream Job

Lack of job experience got you down? Maybe you’re starting to believe you’ll never get your foot in the door and started on the right career path.

Or maybe… freelancing and side hustling might just be the magic potion you’ve been searching for to get you the job you want.

Does this sound familiar?

You’re sitting at your computer staring at a screen and the number of bullet points on it makes you want to hit the back button before you can say “Underqualified.” You’re looking at your current dream job square in the face but each bullet point on that page feels like a reason not to apply for it.

  • “Must have 3-5 years experience”
    • Translated: You have no idea what you’re doing yet, don’t even think about hitting that “APPLY” button.
  • “Must have MA or MBA”
    • Translated: This job is out of your league. Go back to school and try again in 3-5 years.
  • “Project management experience”
    • Translated: You should already have supervisory experience. And, no, being a camp counselor doesn’t count.
  • “Knowledge of HTML and Java a HUGE plus!”
    • Translated: We will actually only hire someone with these skills.

But did you know there’s a way you can literally (actually, figuratively) pull job experience out of your assets?

Get this: Imagine that a few years ago, maybe while still taking classes or at that job you took just to pay the bills, you got a little antsy and decided to take up a hobby. Not long after, a friend reaches out to you because they have a project that’s actually along the same lines of your new hobby. Maybe it’s building computers, maybe it’s budgeting or setting and mapping out financial goals, maybe you love creating websites. After you help them out, they say, “Hey thanks so much for your help! You saved me a load of money by coming over and helping me with this.”

Then it hits you. People pay people to do what you like doing. Huh.

Now it gets interesting.

It’s pretty obvious that you have an aptitude for this stuff, meaning you can pick it up pretty quickly and, not to mention, you like doing it. So how can we turn this around to create something that 1). will generate a bit of side income, 2). get you some experience in the field you’re interested in (AKA: resume gold) and 3). make you sound like an expert in your field?

The answer: get hustling.

Here’s how:

1 | Get better at what you do

So maybe you got a degree in web design and that’s exactly what you want to do, or maybe you were an English major but you think web design is just the best. Either way, you’ve been doing this as a hobby for a little while now and although you have a feel for what you’re doing, it wouldn’t hurt to learn more. Sign up for some e-courses!

The beauty of a side hustle is that no one makes you do it. It’s your choice and it’s what you want to do, so learning about it feels a whole lot different than taking college algebra… unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Being good at what you do is only half the job of having a side hustle. You’ll also want to take courses (or watch Youtube videos, read blogs, listen to podcasts, attend webinars for goodness sake), on how to market yourself and put yourself out there. (More on that later).

2 | Start doing what you’re good at for others

Say you’ve never actually had a client before. Well, everybody starts somewhere and you’re no different. The key here is to just start doing. If you build computers, do that. Create your own little computer portfolio and maybe even make a buck or two selling them once you’re finished with your creation. If you plan budgets and map out financial goals, do this for yourself, your parents, for your friends, for your friends’ parents! Get them to write reviews on how you did and how they benefited from it and then keep those reviews in an excel sheet so you can share them with future clients and future employers. Ever purchase something based on the reviews? This time, you’re the product, now get yourself some reviews (future job references, anyone?)!

3 | Market yourself

So you’re really good at what you do. Who cares? Not the people who don’t know about you. What do people care about? Their problems. Remember that friend you helped out? Why did they reach out to you in the first place? Because they had a problem.

Now apply that same thought to getting prospective clients to hire you. You need to find people with a problem. Some of your future clientele might not even know they have a problem until they talk to you, which can actually be great!

You might be thinking, “If they don’t know they have a problem, why would they want to hire me?”

The thing is, if you’re the person who points out the problem (in a very helpful, “this may be none of my business, but…” kind of way), then you set yourself up to appear like an expert in your field. People also desire to have a quick and easy fix to their problems. Since you’re the one who noticed the problem, why not be the one to fix it while you’re here? You sound like you know what you’re doing after all.

Here’s an example of what this can look like in real life:

Say you’re trying to find clients who will hire you to develop their company’s website. You search the web for local businesses who have websites that could really use a facelift and are in desperate need of a more user-friendly interface. Once you find a couple businesses who look like they’d be great potential clients with websites that you have several ideas for, shoot them an email. In this email you’ll want to include a few things:

  • Who you are and what you do.
  • How you found the company and their website (you don’t have to tell them you were searching for new clients) and what you like about their business (you know, butter them up a little).
  • Show them what you can do. They most likely won’t commit to meet in person if they have no idea what your skill level is or what you can potentially do for their business.
  • A specific idea or two for how you can help their website (or whatever are you’re looking for work in).
  • Ask them to get back to you- sooner rather than later. The faster you can get them to contact you back, the more likely it is that they’ll hire you.

This email might end up sounding something like:

“Hello! My name is Taylor Gregory and I first just want to say that I love Your Business because it’s helped me DO THIS. I’m reaching out because I’m a website/UI designer and while I was navigating your website, I noticed a few areas that could potentially be roadblocks for your customers. For example, when I was trying to fill out This Form, it was a bit difficult to navigate. Since this is something I do, I’d be happy to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss certain areas of your website that could be improved for the user or any other web development needs you might have. Here are a few websites I’ve designed in the past so you can get a feel for what my work looks like.

*Be sure to hyperlink your work here.*

“If you’re interested in help with improving some UI features on your website, please let me know and we can schedule a call or meeting this week or next.

Looking forward to talking soon,


*Optional depending on your experience at this point*

“PS. I’ve attached my resume to this email in case you care to look over some of my other qualifications.”

Once you actually meet with a potential client, whether over the phone or in person, be sure to have a few actionable ideas tucked up your sleeve and make sure you’ve done your research on what people hiring services like yours typically expect to pay because the question will come up.

And there you have your first client!

Which brings us to our end game:

Use your freelancing or side hustle experience to land an awesome job

Like we said before, the awesome thing about freelancing or having a side gig is that you do the work on your own time. You can do this while in school or on the side of a day job that doesn’t exactly shine when read on a resume. You can even do it while unemployed and searching for the next thing! Our end objectives here are to:

  • Gain experience
  • Gain client reviews and references
  • Create an awesome portfolio
  • Appear like an expert in your field
  • Show your future employer that you can do the job, even with only 1-3 years experience.

We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever started a side hustle that ultimately landed you a job? What are your favorite side hustle tips and resources? Share them with us below and *heart* the post to show us some love!

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