You’ve just finished college. You’re looking for a job, but every job you look for seems to require 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 majority of student’s experience, but there are things you can do as a new grad 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 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 helped me gain a permanent position in Cpl as a Marketing Executive. When applying for internships make sure to check you’ll get real experience and that the experience will be relevant to your desired job.
Apply for Graduate specific jobs
Larger companies often run Graduate programs specifically aimed at recent 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.
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.
For example, if you’re passionate about the environment and you have a job interview with a company that is also passionate about this it’ll be much easier to build a rapport. Again, I saw this within Cpl and now chair of the Cpl Green Works sustainability team.
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.
Networking is valuable no matter where you are in your career – you might already 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 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 job search.
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. It is important that you use the keywords that relate to the job description.
By putting in a bit more effort you’ll stand out 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.
If you don’t know where to start Cpl has a great CV guide on all the things you should have in your CV.
Update your LinkedIn Profile
When my friends are looking for jobs, I always stress the importance of them having a LinkedIn. It is a great tool to use while looking for a job and is a go-to for recruiters when sourcing talent.
Familiarise 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. Personally, I found the Grad Ireland careers fair great. It gave me and my friends a great insight into the different jobs out there and the businesses offering graduate programs.
Connect with a Recruiter who Specialises in your Skills
Although it may sound biased, I can’t stress the benefits of working with a recruiter. Firstly, which many of my friends didn’t know, working with a recruiter to find a job costs you nothing.
When working with a recruiter, you’re not totally alone in your job search. A recruiter who specialises in the sector you’d like to work in can advise what jobs are out there and match you with a job based on the skills you have. Recruiters can also help with salary expectations and interview preparation.
As a graduate with little or no experience in the industry you want to get into, it’s about playing to your strengths and making sure 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.