When stepping out on to the career path, it can be daunting applying for jobs with little or no experience on your CV. You can overcome this challenge with some guidance and determination, and discover suitable opportunities for you.
If you haven’t worked part-time or in the holidays whilst in education, you might find yourself in a chicken and egg type scenario – you need a job to gain experience and experience to get a job. Understandably, many find it hard focusing on studies when juggling work, so you won’t be the only one in this predicament.
Here are some tips to boost your CV and acquire skills that employers are looking for.
Not only does student volunteering improve wellbeing and contribute positively to community life, but it also enhances your employability. Okay, it’s unpaid but just think of the contacts you’ll make and the skills you’ll take forward into the world of paid work.
Employers love to see volunteering experience on a CV as it shows initiative, good work ethic, and commitment to improving yourself and others lives – all appealing traits. You’ll gain lots of transferrable skills such as communication, teamwork, flexibility, self-confidence, and organisation to mention a few.
Aim to volunteer in sectors you have an interest in and would like to develop your career in this area – if Sport is your thing, why not volunteer with local sports teams/venues which are largely volunteer-based and are always looking for more support. Or perhaps you want to work with children, so look to these organisations. Our sister company, Safehands Recruitment, works with many organisations that help children and adults with complex needs – get in touch as they’d be delighted to help and point you in the right direction.
Internships and Apprenticeships
You might be finding it difficult to gain a permanent or long-term role, if so internships and apprenticeships will offer a solution. You can earn money and that much-needed experience as well as build a useful network of contacts. You never know, you just might get a permanent position out of it.
Although a competitive application process might be involved, especially at larger companies, Internships are impressive signposts on your CV and will set you apart from the rest. Peruse the websites of companies you’re interested in working with as they might have formal internship schemes, or you could speculatively apply to SMEs who don’t often advertise opportunities.
Apprenticeships offer employment whilst studying for formal qualifications specific to a profession over a longer-term, usually over 1-4 years. A worthwhile commitment if you’re guaranteed a job after completing the programme, and even if not, you can take the valuable skills you’ve gained to another employer.
At RE Recruitment, we offer both opportunities and have an established career pathway supported by tailored training. Effective support is vital when you’re looking for these schemes, so make sure you investigate what is on offer.
Some say, it’s not what you know it’s who you know, and when you’re starting out with little experience, your network becomes important – a recommendation from a personal contact can get your foot in the door.
Here’s how you can build your network from the ground up:
- Before you graduate, ensure you make use of your college or university contacts.
- Head to as many jobs and careers fairs as possible.
- Attend recruitment events within or outside your college or university. We attend Worcester University’s main canteen the first Wednesday of each month, offering career advice, CV writing services and, of course, networking opportunities! We can put you in touch with companies recruiting in your area.
- Maintain contact with lecturers and nurture this relationship on a professional level for references, guidance, and support in the future.
- Get active on social media. Build your professional network on LinkedIn and connect with companies in your desired field and the people within them. It’s possible to get head-hunted off the back of a well-managed social media profile.
Focus on Existing Skills
When it comes to writing your CV, hopefully, you have heeded our above advice and gained plenty of work experience through internships, volunteering, job shadowing etc.
CV writing requires the author to quickly grasp the art of self-promotion. Really analyse yourself, your qualities, personal traits, skills you perhaps have taken for granted and get it all down on paper. Focus on the here and now – the skills you have – that will make you a match for a job. Keep the artistic licence to a minimum, as it’s likely you will be found out in the long run!
Employers look for transferable and ‘soft’ skills, as well as the hard, academic qualification skillset. Highlight your emotional intelligence such as effective communication, attention to detail, ability to manage conflict and leadership skills, and provide examples.
Be honest, act with integrity and don’t hide the fact you lack experience in your chosen field. Flip it on its head and show how you’re keen to learn, passionate about the industry and want to progress on your chosen path.
Extracurricular activities you took part in whilst in education, such as sports teams, societies, Student Union work etc., demonstrate team working, leadership and dedication, so be sure to include this in your CV.
Don’t run before you can walk
“Follow Your Dream”, “Dream Big”, “Aim High” are all quotes we’ve seen embraced in wooden frames and plastered across home, school, university et al., walls. However, when embarking on your career journey, be measured in your approach to what jobs to apply for.
Yes, aim big, but know when the time is right to strike. When you have minimal experience, applying to be CEO of Google or other senior roles will be a futile act. Set your sights lower to start with and target entry-level/junior roles and prepare yourself to begin on the bottom rung – if you’re as ambitious as you think you are, you won’t be there for long!
Another strategy is to apply for jobs within SMEs or regional branches of larger companies. It will be less competitive, and you can gain wider experience and develop your skills quicker by being exposed to more areas of the business. There are plenty of fantastic employers that aren’t all PLCs.
Speculate to accumulate – sprinkle your CV out there like confetti! You just might create your own opportunity by emphasising what you can bring to an organisation and being in the right place, at the right time.
For more CV writing tips and application strategies, check out our Perfect CV blog.
At RE Recruitment, we offer more support, more opportunities and more personal touch than other recruitment agencies and can help you with all the above. We put your interests at heart and strive to get you on the right career path. Contact us for a chat with one of our consultants: email@example.com