It’s a question we get asked a lot. When you haven’t had previous experience, how do you get a job (possibly your first job) when employers are looking for skills and some relevant knowledge? This obstacle can appear not only when applying for full time jobs, but also for some placements and internships in competitive sectors, or even part-time work. This can seem an unreasonable stumbling block, but there are things you can do to bridge this gap. So where do you start?
With this post we will look at what to do if you have no previous work experience at all. In the next few weeks we will look at other kinds of situation so hopefully you will find something that applies to you.
- What have you done already?
Start building a CV from things you have done. If you have had positions of responsibility, at school or University, are involved in sports or other hobbies which you have invested considerable time and effort in, or have been involved in student societies, these are all great for showing skills. See our guide to making job applications for some advice on demonstrating your skills.
- Transferable skills from your degree
Show how you have developed transferable skills from your programme of study. These skills are useful even if your degree is not relevant to the job. If you have to work in Problem Based Learning or case study groups, that means team working and problem solving. If you have to do presentations, that develops communication skills. A dissertation project could show analytical ability and possibly even project management. But if you don’t mention them, the recruiter probably won’t guess that you have these.
- Apply for part-time work
Part-time jobs add experience to your CV as some part-time employers do not require previous experience. Even if the job is not related to the career you end up in, this kind of work can be great at building up transferable skills of team working, communication skills, organisation and time management, all of which are useful for nearly any job.
- Undertake voluntary work
Even a couple of hours a week can start building your CV, and again you normally won’t need to show you have previous experience. As with part-time work you can develop your skills and you can support a good cause at the same time. Our Manchester Student Volunteers service can help you find voluntary work, and also try www.do-it.org.