Help! I’ve Just Graduated But Have No Industry Experience


If you’ve just graduated but have no idea how to land a job in your chosen industry, we’re here to tell you: don’t panic!

You can still get that dream job even if you didn’t have the time at university to complete some work experience or network, just follow these steps and you’ll get there.

Is it too late for grad schemes?

You might have missed the boat on grad schemes; it all depends on the time of year. Typically you need to start applying for graduate schemes by September the year before you graduate – that’s the September of your final year. It’s super early, we know, so you need to get organised on this one.

All hope is not lost though if you have missed the boat! Many graduate schemes will still take you the year after you’ve graduated. So once you’ve finished your final year, get on googling so you can apply by the September. Remember though, if you’re successful you’ll have to wait a whole year after graduating until you can start in the summer.

You don’t have to join a graduate scheme just because you went to university though. Yes, graduate schemes offer a full-time position with in-depth training, but if you end up hating the role you could get yourself in a sticky situation career-wise. Just think, what if a company was prepared to hire you right now for a role you’re aiming to get by the end of the scheme? Graduate schemes definitely aren’t the only way to go. You’ve acquired so many valuable skills over the last few years so don’t sell yourself short! You can still get a successful job in the industry without jumping on the bandwagon.

Should I get a Masters?

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll tell you again: do not stay in education to buy you more time! It’s such a waste of time and money if it’s not actually going to be beneficial to you.

If the career you want requires postgraduate study then, by all means, go for it. In addition, if you find the subject genuinely interesting then feel free to continue with academia. Further study often requires specialising in a subject, so it can lead to some tailored career paths, perfect for showing off your expertise. Remember though, even if you complete a Master’s, you don’t have to find a job directly related to it; it follows the same concept as your undergraduate degree – you’ve picked up so many soft skills while studying that you can pretty much land a job in any field, so rest assured English Lit students, you don’t have to teach English!

You basically just need to figure out what you want to do with your life in order to make this decision – it’s a scary thought we know! Weigh up the pros and cons of postgraduate study: can you afford it? (FYI: there are loans available for postgrad study now.) Would you rather save money to move out? Will this actually help your career? If you really don’t know the answer then it’s probably best to tuck the idea of postgraduate study away for a while until you’re sure it’s worth the investment.

Do I intern?

Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve not taken any internships over the last three or four years, you can still get some experience now as you probably have some free time on your hands. If you’ve still got a part-time job in the effort to dig your way out of your overdraft, don’t panic! There is a way to balance it all.

If you’re looking for an internship remember that they are paid jobs, but minimum wage usually. If you spot a company advertising ‘unpaid internships’, that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘work experience’ and so you should only work a couple of weeks tops. It’s unfair for you to work for a long time unpaid and employers know this.

Head over to social media to spot the latest internship and work experience vacancies. Many companies have Facebook pages or Twitter feeds dedicated to their job postings. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to contact the recruitment manager directly! Insider tip for you: don’t go for huge corporate companies – you’re much more likely to land a work experience opportunity if you approach smaller businesses. Make sure you check out these CV and cover letter guides so they can’t refuse you!

If you’re freaking out about juggling your current job with getting work experience, don’t, because there’s a way around it. See if you can book some holiday, get someone to cover your shifts or even request some sabbatical leave for a month or two. Make the most of your opportunities now because once you get your first ‘proper’ job you’ll find it increasingly difficult to find the time to gain some work experience. Trust us!

Waitressing is all I have!

So you’re probably having a wobbly because the only work experience you have to date is beeping away at a checkout or waiting tables. You need to remember that you’ve picked up a tonne of soft skills from these experiences though, and all you need to do is phrase them the right way on your CV so they’re relevant to the industry you want to enter.

Don’t believe us? Look at any job vacancy out there and you’ll see that companies are always looking for people that have great customer service skills, excellent communication skills and are motivated. See, all those hours of asking people if they want to see the specials mean you have selling points! Not only have you developed soft skills through part-time work, but through actually doing your degree, too. You had to learn to prioritise, stick to deadlines, and you’ve got great attention to detail from proofing those essays, right? Well there you go, more selling points than you thought!

Now this might sound backwards, but bear with us; sometimes a lack of industry experience is desirable. Sometimes employers would much prefer to train up a blank slate because new hires will be more likely to gel with their processes. This means new hires will be as efficient as possible with a smooth trajectory into the company.

What now?

Fingers crossed you’ve been convinced that it doesn’t matter if you didn’t pay attention to career advice at uni, or didn’t do a placement or internship, or never even ventured into the industry you so desperately want to work in. You’ve got so much going for you it’s just a case of playing the game and selling yourself effectively.

Don’t get lazy though, you need to make the most of the opportunities around you. Set up that LinkedIn as soon as you’ve finished reading this article and optimise it so you’re able to network and engage with professionals in the industry. Your LinkedIn headline is key here. Don’t just put ‘Media Graduate’, put ‘Media Graduate seeking entry-level videographer role’. You’re doing yourself and the experts a massive favour here by broadcasting your career aims. Join industry-related groups on LinkedIn, too – try to be proactive in at least three and you’ll build some rapport in no time. In addition, make sure you follow companies and key professionals in your chosen industry; you need to make sure you’re up to date on what’s happening in the sector.

You could also try and push this professional brand you’ve created through Twitter. If you turn your Twitter account into a professional platform you can engage with other professionals, glean industry insights, see what’s trending and scout the latest vacancies. Make sure you don’t mix this professionalism with tweets ranting about your uni housemates though!

Just go for it!

Relaxed now? Yes you might have a bit to do now in terms of finding experience or sorting out your social media presence, but you honestly have nothing to worry about. You can find a job in the industry you want to enter without experience no problem; you just need to be proactive. Get that CV looking snazzy with all your skills and sign up to CV-Library where you can browse jobs and allow recruiters to contact you with that golden opportunity. You’ve just got to go for it!

Article contributed by job board, CV-Library.

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