7/7/2016 9:30:19 AM
Three tips for overcoming the ‘no experience’ barrier
Hello, job seeker! Are you looking for your first job? Perhaps you’re now encountering the frustrating loop of needing experience for a job, and needing a job for experience? It’s a classic Catch 22 situation. We empathise, because we’ve all been there. Admittedly, the jobs market is getting more competitive but there’s plenty you can do to make yourself more employable - even if you lack the ‘E’ word.
It’s true, there are many specialist roles where no amount of personality or mustard-keenness will replace a strong skills set born from experience at the coalface; imagine the repercussions of a doctor with no medical training or a lawyer with no grasp of the law. However, for everything else, there are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of landing that coveted role, with or without experience.
1. Put yourself out there
Gaining work experience isn’t impossible, but the key is to be proactive. Rather than waiting for a job to be advertised, use your initiative and make the first move.
If you’re in a position to do so, offer your services on a trial basis, or perhaps just ask for some work experience. This is a really great way to develop your skills set, and may be much easier than getting an employer to commit offering a permanent contract.
Play your cards right, and this could be your first step on the career ladder with an organisation you know well and who knows you. Even if it leads nowhere, this approach shows prospective employers you are proactive, keen and willing to go the extra mile for a job - all of which can be legitimately evidenced on your CV.
2. Internships and apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are a commitment by a company to take you on and train you under the guidance of the company and a formal training provider. They provide a brilliant opportunity to learn skills and become more acquainted with a company’s culture. You will be paid for the work you do and whilst pay rates are not great, you will be working and training at the same time and generally come out of it with a qualification and a job.
More and more school leavers are turning to apprenticeships as an alternative to university education as they offer an opportunity to ‘earn as you learn’ and avoid getting you into huge amounts of debt with no guarantee of a job at the end. Some of the UK’s leading employers offer apprenticeship programmes and competition is fierce to win places with organisations including Rolls Royce, Airbus and EDF.
Some companies take on interns, which involves recruiting individuals to let them gain the all important work experience in return for unpaid work. It’s a great opportunity to gain a real insight into the industry you want to work in. However, like apprenticeships, internships are increasingly more difficult to secure due to overwhelming interest. If you already have a part-time role or are being supported financially an internship is a viable route into your chosen career.
3. Make your own luck
If you’re really driven but prepared for some trial and error, you can demonstrate your abilities in a more tangible way. There are multiple indirect ways of gaining experience that can transfer into your chosen career - guest blogging, volunteering, freelancing, even starting your own business; these are all ways of gaining valuable work experience that will stand you in good stead now and in the future. For example, if you want to work in digital media, perhaps start a blog or vlog and build an audience on Instagram or Twitter; your experience will make for a great conversation piece at future interviews.
The general rule is that if you want an employer to pay you to do something, do it on your own first. You never know, if you really take to it... perhaps you’ll become an entrepreneur and chose to become your own boss instead. If others won’t give you them, make your own opportunities instead.
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