How Students Can Find a Job with No Experience | Top Universities

How Students Can Find a Job with No Experience

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Chloe Lane

Updated Nov 24, 2021



How Students Can Find a Job with No Experience

Sometimes searching for a job can feel like a never-ending cycle. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get the experience in the first place.

Whether you’re looking for a graduate job or an apprenticeship, or even a part-time job at university, landing your first job is rarely easy.

The University of Law’s Director of Employability, John Watkins, gives us some advice on how students can impress employers without having work experience.

Writing your resume

It’s hard to know where to start when writing your resume, especially if you don’t have a much work experience.

Before you start writing, outline the specific skills the company is looking for. These are some of the skills you will need to demonstrate in your resumé. However, you should also include more general transferable skills.

“Sometimes employers are looking for very specific qualities to match their culture and ethos” said Watkins. “Generally, though, there are a wide range of desired attributes, including teamwork, commercial awareness and interpersonal skills.

“In 2020, there may well need to be particular emphasis on adaptability or ‘employ-agility’ as we have started to call it at The University of Law. This is the ability to deal with a variety of challenges brought about by a total change to the norm.”

Formatting your resume

Formatting your resume

Watkins explained that employers don’t necessarily expect entry level resumés to be formatted in the traditional way (e.g. education followed by work experience, followed by hobbies etc.).

He said: “Whilst visual appeal is important, as there are many CVs to read and not much time to devote to each one, content is clearly the key”.

Take time curating your resumé, formatting in a way that you think would make the most sense to an employer. This usually means starting with your education.

Find out how to write a great CV with no work experience.

Explaining your lack of work experience 

Standing out to employers

Be honest and highlight your other skills

Being honest about your experience is vital but being apologetic about your lack of experience may hinder your chances of finding a job.

“There could be a whole host of reasons why you have minimal experience,” said Watkins, “but it is what you can offer in the future that employers are looking at”.

Although relevant work experience will be something that stands out to employers, other factors such as ambition, drive, energy, commitment to the role and an understanding of the employer will also help boost your chances of getting hired.

Gaining experience

If you are looking for work experience to boost your resumé, there are plenty of opportunities currently available, explained Watkins.

Virtual events often have very high capacity and there are numerous short engagement opportunities with employers and learning providers.

“The University of Law Employability Service has run a Summer Commercial Awareness Challenge and a Virtual Leadership Experience, as well as putting on an extensive program of other events”

He added that “all of these add value and enhance employability”.

Standing out to employers

Employers are looking to assess whether a student will perform well in their work environment, explained Watkins.

There are several things employers hope to find on a graduate’s resumé:

  • Evidence of building relationships: Employers want you to be able to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues.
  • The ability to deal with challenges: Challenges such as meeting deadlines and overcoming problems arise often in a work environment.
  • Being able to deliver successful outcomes: You need to ensure employers that you can deliver work on time, to a high quality.

How can you demonstrate these qualities as a student? “These attributes can be highlighted through extra-curricular activities and hobbies” advised Watkins. The skills you have developed in these activities can be transferred to a working environment.

Watkins said: “Students should consider how they would draw upon previous experiences to show that they are suitable for the role in question.

“Relevant experience is great, but anything to do with people will always transfer across well and the personal disciplines of organization and time management can be found from many activities.”

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