By LIM MAY LEE
Resume a little bare in the work experience section? No fear!
So you’ve got a degree and you’re looking for a job! The problem is, most of the jobs you see have that depressing line about needing job experience. But, how do you get job experience without getting a job first? With this seemingly hopeless dilemma, fresh graduates and even those who would like to make a drastic career switch may find it easier to just give up.
Don’t panic, and don’t give up! There are many others in the same boat. Those with internships under their belts may use those as the job experience needed, if applicable. But if you didn’t have any internship opportunities, or the job position you’re eyeing is vastly different from any job you’ve ever done, here are some tips on getting that sweet job without prior work experience!
Tip 1: Harvest your good qualities from your school or university days
Transferrable skills are your secret weapon! Did you lead a club in school? That is leadership. Were you in a sports team? Teamwork. If you’ve ever handled an event, that is event management. Are you starting to look through your resume with different eyes?
Everything that you’ve experienced creates an impact in your life. Your skills as a fresh graduate can include proof-reading, fact-checking, researching, adept at using Microsoft Office, budgeting and good social interaction!
You may not have actually worked in an office environment, but you have worked, and if you can translate those experiences into the soft skills needed to get yourself a job, you should be successful.
Tip 2: Volunteer
Organisations that need volunteers do not quibble over work experience and the like. While waiting for potential employers to respond to your application, it’s time to get busy!
Volunteering offers you a great way to explore and develop skills, likes (and dislikes) that you may have never known you had. If you were planning to apply for a job that involves children, it could be a good idea to volunteer at an orphanage first.
Not only will you gain valuable working experience in dealing with children, you also get a first-hand glimpse at how an organisation is run, funds are managed, and definitely learn to multi-task.
Tip 3: Learn
If you’re lacking in work experience, then knowledge is your friend. You don’t have to get a second degree, but certificates in skills, whether soft or technical, could go a long way towards impressing potential employers.
Certifications go beyond equipping you with knowledge; they also indicate that you are someone who is willing to learn and is committed to improving yourself. Of course, learning isn’t a substitute for actual hands-on experience, but it’s a good step forward!
Tip 4: Work Samples
They say “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. If you have samples of your skills that could impress your potential employers, display them!
Add samples of your designs to your application if you’re applying for a position as graphic designer, and samples of your writing if you would like to be a writer. Make a video of yourself giving a sales pitch if you would like a job in sales, and draft a marketing plan for a fictitious product if you would like to start your career in marketing.
Work samples give employers solid proof of your abilities and can help give you more consideration. Remember, applicants with job experience already have proof in terms of their achievements in their previous jobs, so you would need to have something extra to hold your own and not lose out.
Tip 5: Stand out!
This is no time to blend into the woodwork; this is the time to grab the spotlight and, most importantly, the JOB. If there are competitions, take part! Jazz up your resume with an awesome cover letter!
If necessary, call the company about a week after you’ve submitted your resume, and enquire about your application’s status – this is also a good opportunity to have a quick chat with the person on the other line; if you can impress the person in five minutes, your chances of getting an interview could be that much higher.
This might interest you: 5 Soft Skills You Need To Stand Out From The Crowd
Tip 6: Network
Sometimes, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Make the most of your circle of friends and acquaintances!
If your mother has a friend who might need an extra employee, it won’t do you any harm to get more information about that job from the friend. Who knows, you could get that work experience that you need.
Informal enquiries about available jobs may reap great opportunities as well! Asking friends of friends about their jobs, and about the jobs available in their workplace may give you a clearer picture of how a workplace is like and whether you are the right person for the job.
This might interest you: You’re Never Too Young To Network
Going to career fairs also helps with the networking because you get to know the people who really matter in your job hunt: The HR team! Above all, be patient. Keep submitting those resumes and don’t give up! If there is one way to ensure a 100% failure rate, it is to not try at all.
Keep improving yourself, and striving to move onwards and upwards. Do research on the companies you’re applying for and tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. You may not get the first job you applied for, but that happens to almost everyone, regardless of work experience. Hang in there, and while you’re waiting to be employed, work on your skills.
There is no such thing as being “pro” or being the best: Everybody could do with more knowledge, life experiences, and contacts. Make new friends and keep an eye out for prime job openings that you could submit your application to! You can do it!
Your cover letter gives people a glimpse of who you are and what you hope you achieve. When writing a cover letter, tell them why you would like to join the company, what you bring to the table and why you think you can succeed.
Try to keep it short (about 200 to 300 words) though, HR managers have many applications to review and may not have the time to read a mini-novel.
If you have an engaging personality, why not let potential employers see that in the flesh? Create your very own video resume and attach it to your applications!
This is most useful if you’re applying for jobs that place an emphasis on personality, like sales or customer service. You can attach your video resume into your applications by using myStarjob.com’s Visume function! For more information, go to myStarjob.com/visume.
When writing your resume, you usually have to add in your work experience. If you have none, emphasise what you DO have, such as your grades and the soft skills you have picked up in school and while volunteering.
Don’t be too shy to call up the HR department and ask about the status of your application! One call, about a week after you’ve submitted the application, should be good enough.