It’s the catch-22 that has infuriated graduates and jobseekers alike for years. You want a job in a particular industry but you need experience; however you can only get experience if they take a chance and give you a job. You just need that one employer to see the merit in you despite the fact that you don’t have professional experience in that field. Some call this the ‘permission paradox’. When recruiters assess you they look at your potential to add value in the future as well as your track record. To prove your potential value you need to display a positive attitude, enthusiasm and knowledge of the role you want, as well as show some form of experience. So how can you achieve this?
These are not just for students; they are now seen as the new entry-level job. Find a placement that interests you and make sure it presents you with the opportunity to develop the skills required for the job you really want. Also, use it as an opportunity to network and make connections with people who might be useful in the future.
A mistake many people make is dismissing achievements from university as being insignificant. If you wrote for the newspaper, organised a society event or even fundraised for a charity, these can all be turned into transferable skills that are useful in the workplace. Classes and lectures that required extensive research or a presentation of your findings are also useful in demonstrating competences in aspects such as project management and public speaking.
Start at the Bottom
It may feel like you’re over-qualified for a particular role, but if it gives you a chance to get your foot in the door with a company you aspire to work for, showing your willingness to work your way up can reassure the employer that you’re committed and passionate about both the company and industry. You might also find that this opens up doors in a different direction for you and/or that you learn a lot about the sector that will help you progress higher up the ladder in the long run.
If you are part of an organisation or you are taking part in an event, try and take on a leadership role. Employers like this and it will demonstrate your ability to take control of situations, be organised and able to handle a position of responsibility.
Spread the word that you are on the lookout for a job. Update your profile on sites such as LinkedIn so that it looks professional and displays what your areas of specialism and interest are. Make connections with professionals you admire and show them that you have done your research on them and/or their company. Many job offers are made through successful networking.
According to LinkedIn one in five hiring managers consider voluntary work experience incredibly valuable when considering candidates. Doing this shows your dedication to breaking into a sector, your initiative and determination to develop your skills, as well as your willingness to give back.
If you have ever babysat for your neighbours, tutored students or even sold items through eBay you can demonstrate your business-like attitude. Furthermore, it is even better if you can get testimonials from people you have helped or worked with in the past to back up your skills.
So if you find the ‘experience issue’ is preventing you from succeeding in your job hunt, try to complete one or more of the above in order to gain/prove you have the skills you need to succeed in the role. For more advice, click here.
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