Employers often look to hire people with experience – but how can you gain experience when employers refuse to consider candidates with no experience? In this article we explore why employers might ask for experience and outline how you can improve your chances of finding employment with little or no work experience.
Why do employers ask for experience?
Employers like candidates with experience for many reasons. Candidates with experience can deliver results immediately and without the cost of training. Consider that you are the Zambian football manager and you have a choice between 2 players. The 1st player has played many games of football whilst the 2nd player has studied football but has never played a game. Whilst we are not saying that the 2nd player does not have the potential to become a great footballer it would be more of a risk for the manager to pick the 2nd player.
So what can you do if you if you have little or no work experience?
1. Put knowledge into practice. You can gain vital experience by putting your knowledge into practice. For example, if you have studied accountancy why not volunteer to help friends or family who have a business with their accounts? Alternatively, you could offer to work part-time or as a summer intern for organisations who rely on volunteers, such as charities and church groups.
2. Uncover hidden experience. Spent the summer helping the family business? You were part of a small business, responsible for sales, marketing, finance and customer service. Worked part-time in a fast-food restaurant? You worked as part of a dynamic team, providing excellent customer service and learning about food industry with emphasis on retail. Whatever you think of your work experience it is probably of great value to an employer. It is the same for projects or activities that you may have been involved with whilst studying. The key is to try and take the positives from all your experiences and make them relevant to the jobs that you apply for.
3. Be pro-active. Treat looking for a job as a job. Set targets for the number of job applications and speculative applications that you send. Attend recruitment events, engage with potential employers and network whenever possible. Always have a copy of your CV to hand and be prepared to quickly explain your skills, experience and suitability. If you find that your approach to job seeking is not working then consider changing your approach. If you find that you do not have the skills required by employers be prepared to study in order to gain these skills. The more effort you put in the greater your chances of success.
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