I received an email earlier in the week from a user asking my advice on the common job seeking problem; how do you get a job without having experience? You won’t have experience unless you get a job, but you can’t get a job without experience, and so goes on the never-ending cycle!
The good news is; there are things that you can do to dodge the experience barrier. Here are my top tips to improve your chances of securing that dream job.
1)Finding jobs after education
For those of you who have spent the last couple of years avoiding daylight and eating beans out of the tin, there is more to being a student that just a tremendously big overdraft and some tremendously big hangovers to match. You might not have a job, but you have collected a shed load of saleable skills that an employer just won’t be able to resist.
By continuing your studies you have:
üShown you have a keen interest and ability in the pursuit of greater knowledge in your chosen subject.
üEmphasised that you are driven towards career goals and are willing to work hard.
üProven that you are self-motivated and have the ability to work to deadlines effectively.
üNot to mention the fact that you have a shiny new qualification in your chosen subject.
If you have no other work experience then make the most out of your educational success on your CV. Write down all of your skills and achievements and highlight how these translate to the working world. Don’t be put off by your lack of experience, life experience and educational achievements are both very important in making a great employee and won’t be overlooked if you market them cleverly on your CV.
2) & 3) Finding your first job/ a new career
Whether you’re changing careers or you’re looking for your first job, you might not have sufficient job experience, if any at all. If this is the case then why not try some of the following:
Voluntary Work Experience/Temp Jobs
Voluntary work experience carries a wide range of merits. Not only have you accepted that you need to enhance your skills, but you have also taken an unpaid position to improve the quality of your application. Employers will look on voluntary work experience very favourably as it shows you are committed, hard working and willing to put the effort in to get what you want. Any work experience in your desired field will be appreciated by an employer, whether you were a paid employee or not.
Getting a temporary job might just be that little bit easier than a permanent position and is less likely to need lots of experience, so it’s a great way to begin. Even if you don’t start in the right department, it’s all about getting a foot in the door. Whether you end up delivering the boss his coffee or filing until you’re riddled with paper cuts, sticking out the temp side will allow you to gain experience, and at the very least, learn more about how the company operates, to see if it’s a place you can see yourself working full-time.
Although these jobs may not reward you with a permanent post straight away, this is by no means the end of your interaction with the company. Make the most of your time and build good working relationships and contacts you can call upon to find out about future vacancies. Although you may not be getting a wage; avoid doing the bare minimum. Work hard, be enthusiastic and make an impression on the company. Then if a position does come up, you’ll have a whole host of workmates to vouch for why you’d be a great permanent addition to the team.
Research the kind of experience required by calling up HR depts. They may be able to advise you on the things they will be looking for in the recruitment process.
You may also be able to arrange a meeting or phonecall with someone in the industry who would be able to tell you more about the kind of work they do. Make contacts, make friends, and you could be rewarded for your resourcefulness.
If you have friends, neighbours or family connections in a job or company you are interested in, call on them for a bit of inside help. They might be able to give you tips, point you in the right direction or be able to have a polite word to their boss about how great you are. Personal recommendations are as good as experience, in some cases.
Aptitude is important- if you have taken time to learn about the company, learn about the job, and learn about the industry, it shows you are serious, clearly driven, focused and downright perfect for the job! So let that shine through on your applications and your CV.
Remember, little or no work experience doesn’t mean your CV has to be a big blank canvas. So before cranking up the font size to 18 to fill up the page; highlight key skills, write a well focused personal statement and evaluate all your experience that makes you a great candidate. Job seeking isn’t easy but there are ways to significantly improve your chances, so work with what you’ve got and you might just be surprised at what you can achieve.