The age-old saying goes “you can’t get a job without experience… and you can’t get experience without a job”, and as a fresh graduate out of university this is one of the toughest barriers to face when trying to launch a career.
There is hope however, as there are some quick and simple things that a Graduate can do to help them successfully land their first job and set themselves up for a solid career.
Below are 5 tips for graduates to help them land their first job when they have no experience:
1) Volunteer or internship:
Volunteering is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build up experience. Sure, you don’t get paid for it but remember you’re trying to build your experience. Try calling a few organisations that you would be interested in working for to see if they have any opportunity for you to help out. If you can, try get onto some projects or do some work that is closely aligned to what you want to be doing with a paid job.
If it’s available, a better option is to do an internship. An internship will provide you with a more structured approach to getting the experience you need… plus you have the possibility of getting paid. Check out your local job boards or employer websites to see if they offer an internship.
On top of the experience you receive, another benefit of doing volunteer work or an internship is the connections you make. Most likely, the people that you are working with will have a broader network and could potentially help you find employment elsewhere or put in a good reference for you.
Another huge benefit of volunteering or doing an internship (and also why many people do it and rave about it) is that if you perform well there is a good chance that the Company you are working for will hire you.
2) Extracurricular activities:
As a graduate, employers understand that you will be lacking experience. Although work experience is more often preferred, another great way of demonstrating that you have the skills necessary to perform successfully in the role is to do some extracurricular activities.
For instance, playing in a sports team can help you learn about teamwork and leadership, and getting involved in a society at University can help you learn about planning, project management and marketing. Make sure that you clearly demonstrate to your hiring manager how what you have learned in your extracurricular activity can translate back to the role you are applying for.
3) Identify accomplishments:
Think about what you have accomplished over the past 5 years. When hiring graduates, it’s not just all about relevant work experience. Employers look for well-rounded individuals with the ability to perform and perform well. If you can demonstrate this by showing where you have been successful and accomplished something in other areas of your life, make the hiring manager aware of this.
If your grades at University were good, make sure you play to this. If you received an award for being the most-improved or the best in class, make sure you point this out.
By demonstrating your accomplishments from other areas of your life, employers will see that you display discipline, commitment and that you’re an agile learner. These are all traits that employers are looking for in a new graduate.
4) Structure the resume:
A quick and simple way of tailoring your application to your strengths is to use an appropriate structure for your resume. If you’re lacking the relevant work experience then perhaps a typical chronological resume is not the way to present yourself.
Trying opting for a functional style resume where you can clearly and easily demonstrate your skills.
With advancements in technology and social media, networking has never been easier.
All it takes now is a simple mention such as @UndercoverRec and you can instantly be connected with someone over twitter. You can use this to your advantage. By engaging with people over social media it can build your presence and lead to referrals and potentially a job offer!
However, don’t forget traditional networking. There is still no substitute for face-to-face communication and it will leave a much stronger impression on the people you are connecting with.
As a graduate, it’s about playing to your strengths and ensuring you can demonstrate how all of your experiences, be it work, university, extracurricular or your general life can relate back to the job you’re applying for.
The key is to get out there, be proactive and have some fun. That’s what it’s all about!
Author: Brendan Baker is the Founder of Gradrecruit, a graduate careers portal that provides expert career advice and the ability for graduates to search and apply for roles. Gradrecruit is also a consulting and outsourcing firm for graduate recruitment strategy and delivery.