You’ve just finished college. You need a job, but every job you look at requires some experience. The biggest problem with trying to find a job with no experience is that you need experience to get a job, and need a job to get experience…
It’s a stressful barrier most students experience, but there are things you can do as a Graduate which will help you land your first “real” job and set yourself up for a solid career.
Do an Internship
An internship is a great way to gain experience in and give you a “feel” for an industry. Internships are also useful for building a network of contacts and can lead to a permanent job. For me, doing my internship with Cpl in the Marketing Department really reassured me that marketing was something I want to do. When applying for internships make sure to check you’ll get real experience and always ask what wages are on offer.
Apply for Graduate specific jobs
If trying to find a job you should look at applying to Graduate specific jobs. Larger companies often run Graduate programs specifically aimed at recend grads. These schemes are highly structured, typically over two years, and focus on training and development. Graduate programmes quite often lead to further qualifications and are great if you're looking to progress your career in a specific direction.
Volunteering can really boost your employability, especially if you have no relevant experience. Many companies today have a strong focus on Corporate social responsibility. Showing your charitable side is a good way to show you’re a good cultural fit for the company.
A good time to bring this up is if you’re asked about hobbies in an interview or what you do in your spare time. Employer's also value volunteering experience as it shows commitment, that you have compassion and a strong work ethic.
Networking is valuable no matter where you are in your career. Think about it you have friends, family, family friends or contacts from university that could help you find the job you’re looking for. Rather than straight out asking for a job, see if they’re free for a coffee and chat about career options.
You might be surprised by how willing others further on in their career are willing to help. By reaching out to your network, you might get a job interview out of it, but if not, at the very least you’ll get some great advice to take with you on your search for a graduate job.
Apply for jobs in smaller organisations
Start-ups and small to medium businesses can be an amazing platform to begin your career. Applying for roles in SMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) is a good first step as they are more open to applicants with less experience. Smaller companies also tend to be more hands on so you’ll learn a lot fast.
Work on your CV
Always edit your CV so that it’s tailored for to each application. By putting in a bit more effort you’ll stand out more and have a higher chance of getting an interview. When editing your CV examine the job description and company culture of a business carefully. Then highlight how your skills and personality match these.
Update your LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great tool to use while looking for a job, and is a go-to for recruiters when sourcing talent. Familarise yourself with the difference between a CV and a Linkedin profile and always make sure to keep your profile up to date and error free. Build your connections and share relevant content to build your own "brand" and show off your expertise. Remember to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your CV too.
Go to Careers Fairs
Career Fairs connect students with employers and recruiters. They’re a great chance to network, ask advice and apply for jobs in person. Do some research and see if there are any around you. You should also research the companies that will be there and prep any questions you might have for your favourite opportunities. Always bring some CVs along too.
As a graduate with no experience in the industry you want to get into, it’s about playing to your strengths and ensuring you can demonstrate how all your experiences, be it in part-time work, university, extracurricular or your general life can relate back to the job you’re applying for.