Work experience: like it or lump it, you pretty much need it. We’re living and learning in a day and age where a university degree is just not enough. The competition is fierce, with thousands of students nationally graduating with the exact same qualifications as you. How are you going to ensure that you stand out from the crowd? The answer is, simply, work experience. You need to show potential employers that you not only have the qualifications to do the job, but you have relevant experience, a hunger to succeed, references which will make you stand out from the crowd and a personality that will impress. Work experience is a funny thing, the more of it you have, the easier it is to get so it’s all about getting your foot in the door and then climbing the ladder. There’s always going to be somebody more dedicated, trying harder and wanting it more than you unless you put yourself out there and get involved, so follow these tips and watch your CV transform; you’ll have job offers lining up in no time!
First thing’s first….
Get In Touch.
Write, e-mail, call. The first step is to contact places which offer relevant work experience to your field of study/future careers. Send as many e-mails to different places as you possibly can and get your name heard. Don’t lie about your experience – if you don’t have any, then be honest, but explain why you’re writing to their company, what you’d be looking to get out of work experience with them and what you can offer them. Don’t make things up like Joey from Friends…we all know how that ended, but make sure you big up your best qualities. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in your own abilities! Write them a nice e-mail explaining who you are, what you do and convince them that it would be in their best interests to give you some work experience. Once you’ve had one placement, in your next e-mail you can include details of your previous work experience! Sneaky, eh?
Stand Out From The Crowd
When you get your placement, you need to make a good impression. A good impression means a great reference and potentially the opportunity for future employment. If you really impress, they could well offer you a job there and then, but if not when it comes to applying for a job they’ll recognise your name, so it’s important to build a good reputation. Be friendly and polite, don’t complain about menial tasks such as making the tea; in fact – offer! Ask questions and use your initiative. If you’ve finished a task, try and make your own work, but never be afraid to ask what’s next. Show you’re curious and interested, and ask as many people as possible for as much information you can get. Everything you learn can be used in the future so you need to be a knowledge sponge!
Get Lots Of It!
There is no such thing as too much work experience so make sure you try and really get yourself out there. Try and get lots of different experience from relevant areas of your subject, you can apply the skills you learn from all the different areas to be really successful when you decide to pinpoint your career. Not only does this look great on your CV, but it gives you a chance to really suss out what it is you want to do, saves you getting a job and realising a couple of weeks in that you actually hate it!
Get a LinkedIn profile. It’s sort of like a virtual CV, you can keep on top of all your work experience on there, so you don’t forget anything when it comes to CV writing! The aim is to get your CV filled with work and experience which is related to the field you want to base your career in, so that you pretty much blow your future employers away and give them absolutely no choice but to hire you!
Keep In Touch
Get contact details of any important people you meet. Start to build up your contacts, make sure to keep in touch once you’ve left. Offer your services, tell them if they ever need any work in the future to please keep you in mind, and make sure you send a lovely thank you e-mail once you’ve finished your placement (everyone loves a kiss-ass, being nice makes you stand out).
The important thing to remember is that you just need to try. Send out e-mails and someone might just take a chance on you! Be polite, be enthusiastic and be impressive -no pressure, right? But seriously, not only does work experience make your first day of real, actual work far less daunting, it helps you stand out from the crowd and makes sure that day will come a lot quicker. So get on Google, find some companies in your area and get e-mailing and sucking up! Remember, it’s always worth a shot, the worst they can say is no!
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