As an employer, when we hire someone new it’s vital that we find someone who can get the job done. Whilst we of course understand that it takes time for someone to learn the job, often having some experience in a related field means that the candidate in question is much more likely to pick up the ropes at a faster pace compared to someone else. When comparing this with looking at someone’s education, we usually check their qualifications to see how well rounded someone might be. However, in the forefront of our minds is ‘how quick can said person pick the job up?’
Many job hunters get frustrated with the fact that employers often require a certain amount of experience, especially when they are fresh out of college and haven’t yet had the chance to work. It’s important to note that the word ‘experience’ doesn’t always mean several years in a similar job. ‘Experience’ could come down to plenty of things such as people working on side projects or volunteering on a part time basis. If the person is a good fit for the company, and has somehow proven their ability then that makes them extremely strong in our eyes. Not only does this make us think that a candidate will be able to do the job; it also shows a keen interest and a willingness to learn things for themselves.
So, as a job hunter looking for a new job, what sort of things can you do to get ‘experience’ even if you can’t find an entry role?
Perhaps the best thing for anyone to do when trying to build up some experience is to try and approach companies looking for a temporary work placement. Yes, you may have to work for free; but if it makes the difference between getting on the job ladder or not, we think it’s definitely worth doing. This will benefit you in several ways. Not only will you get some hands on experience in a real life working environment, it will also show your potential employer that you’re willing to go beyond the norm.
Volunteering in the college breaks or at weekends is another great way to build up much needed work experience. If you’re struggling to find something to do, then try searching for local charities or community projects that may need your help. It’s important to note that they won’t always advertise for positions, so you’ll probably need to take the lead and start contacting people yourself. Again, this shows a willingness to push yourself into new situations – all great qualities from an employers perspective. If you are successful then being able to show how you contacted local organisations and place yourself in a volunteer position will all look great in an interview situation.
If you’re really struggling to find something, then you could always consider starting something yourself as a side project. Being able to do something related to your chosen career will look fantastic to a new employer, especially if you’ve had the initiative to try and do something yourself. For example, if you’re looking to get into web design then having your own website from which you can explain your process, and how you’ve grown the traffic will really help you to stand out.
The experience vs education debate will differ from industry to industry; with some businesses paying more attention to one or the other. However, if you’re going into an industry where experience is key it’s absolutely vital that you get yourself out and start proving your ability. Even if it seems trivial, just doing something small to prove your ability can make all the difference.