It’s a problem faced by many job seekers in Zambia: employers want to hire people with experience, but how can you gain experience when employers refuse to consider candidates with no experience?
This dilemma can be particularly frustrating for students looking to start their working-life. In this special feature we explore several reasons why employers want experience and how you can improve your chances of finding employment.
Is experience important?
First things first, experience counts – fact. Employers want candidates with experience for a reason. 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 good footballer it would be a risk for the manager to pick the 2nd player ahead of the 1st. Accept that experience is important and be prepared. With few jobs and more students and graduates, getting as much experience as you can is vital.
3 tips to get a job
1. Put knowledge into practice. You can show employers your potential by putting your knowledge into practice. For example, if you have studied accountancy why not volunteer to help any friends or family who have a business with their book-keeping? 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. Similarly, if you are interested in becoming a journalist why not put theory into practice by conducting interviews, writing articles and contributing to actual publications? Again there are lots of businesses, charities and other organisations who would be happy to have the help. This will help give you the practical experience (or game time to continue the football analogy) that employers want.
2. Explore the alternatives. Do not dismiss jobs in alternate sectors as experience gained in one sector can often be transferred to another. For example, it is possible to transfer the communication, organisation and negotiation experience developed in a customer service role to numerous other professions. You may not have your dream job but at least you will have taken a few steps towards gaining some experience and showing employers that you are prepared to work hard – employers value this.
3. Be pro-active. Try to put yourself in the right areas to give yourself the best chances of achieving your goals. If you are a student, try to attend any recruitment events that may take place on campus. Remember to be pro-active and engage with employers. Always have a copy of your CV to hand and be prepared to quickly explain your skills, experience and suitability. You may also want to consider becoming a member of a professional organisation and attending the events that they hold. Not only will this give you the opportunity to make contact with professionals in your field but you will also be able to learn more about the professional and gain useful insights that could be crucial at interview.
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