Whether you just graduated, or want to try another career, finding a job without relevant experience sometimes seems like an impossible mission. To gain experience you need to find a job, and to find a job you need experience. When I graduated a few months ago, and tried to find a job in my field, it seemed to me like there was no ad in which one of the most important requirements wasn’t at least a year of experience. But there are ways we can stand out as good candidates even if we don’t have the required experience.
Start before you graduate
Some of the things that will come in handy in our future jobs search, we can do while we’re still students. Student internships, various volunteering, participation in projects and conferences, membership in student associations, are just some of the ways we can gain some experience and thicken our CVs. Apart from the skills that we can acquire, acquaintances and contacts that can help us later should not be neglected. We can often hear that someone, for example, got a job at the same company he was an intern or a volunteer.
The basics matter
The first step of any job search is to write a resume. A CV is the first contact an employer has with us, and is therefore very important for leaving a good first impression. A flawless resume shows that you are a professional and that you care about what impression we leave. It’s a good idea to ask a friend to review your CV before you start sending it. The CV should be concise, no longer than two pages, and it is necessary to state only the information that is important for the job you are applying for. When we are just starting and don’t have relevant experience, we can list experiences that may not be directly related to the desired job. In the CV itself, list your education and experience (internships, student jobs, volunteering) in chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent, with the most recent one first.
The visual appearance of the CV itself is also important. Although the Europass format is still popular, it is quite dated and it is easy to go unnoticed in the sea of the same CVs, so it is a much better option to invest a little effort and personalize your CV. On some websites like Canva, it is possible to find many templates that can be designed and customized to create an effective and original resume. Your photo is also a good way to stand out visually, but only if it looks professional. A bathroom selfie is not the best option, no matter how good you look.
In addition to CVs, employers often ask for a cover letter that needs to be tailored to each employer individually. In the cover letter, you can be more creative, more personal, but it is important to show why you want this particular job, and why you would be the right person for the job. Before writing a cover letter, it is a good idea to gather information about the company you are applying for, its values and goals, and try to use your cover letter to show how you fit into them.
Apart from applying to open vacancies, a good way to look for a job is to send open applications, especially for beginners. With open applications, we have the opportunity to present ourselves to the employer without restrictions, and to show motivation and interest. Even if an open application does not immediately lead to employment, it is good to leave your CV in the CV database of employment agencies (such as https://profesio.hr/prijava-u-bazu-zivotopisa/).
Sometimes a job vacancy needs to be filled as soon as possible, so employers will often review their databases first before starting the entire selection process. I found my current job through an open application, sending one to the Profesio agency because I wanted to get a job there and to my surprise, after a few days, I received an invitation for an interview. Today I am part of the agency team.
Transferable & Soft skills
Aside from experience, what employers are looking for is potential. The potential to do the job you are applying for well, the potential to quickly master the skills needed in that job, the potential to fit well into the organization you are coming into. Psychological testing is an increasingly common part of every selection process and serves precisely to assess the personality, skills and abilities of candidates and measure their potential, rather than their current knowledge and experience. One way you can show your potential to a future employer is by highlighting your “transferable” skills. Transferable skills are skills you can use in any job, regardless of profession or field. Whether you’ve learned them in school or a previous job, transferable skills are what every employee gains with every career experience, including volunteering, internships, or student jobs that aren’t necessarily in their chosen profession. I, for example, worked as a hostel receptionist during my time at university. Although that job is not at all related to the job I am doing now, it gave me several “soft skills” that are very useful to me today. Soft skills are skills that allow you to fit into the workplace. They include your personality, attitude, flexibility and motivation. If you had a job while you were a student, it certainly took a lot of organization, and good time management is essential in any job. Likewise, whether you worked, volunteered, were in student associations, you certainly had to develop your communication skills, and work in a team or within an organization. Adaptability, critical thinking, self-initiative, are some of the skills that may not be directly related to the job you are applying for, but signal to the employer that you have the potential to be a good worker, so try to highlight them in a cover letter or interview.
You have applied to countless ads, sent many more open applications and you are finally invited for an interview. And while each interview is different, there are a few rules to follow to leave the best possible impression. Before the interview itself, it’s good to study some frequently asked questions that employers ask in interviews. In addition to preparing the answers beforehand, at least some idea of what the interview might look like helps reduce nervousness, especially for those who have little experience with the entire selection process. Also, be sure to research as much as possible about the organization you are applying to, so that you are ready to answer questions about what you know about the company. Check out LinkedIn, Facebook and any other channels available to you. Check the ad once again, as well as your resume and cover letter.
Research shows that the most important part of a job interview is the beginning. Therefore, it is very important to be properly dressed. Regardless of whether the company you come to has a “dress code” or not, always prepare well for the interview so that you look as professional as possible. In the interview, be as honest, but try not to criticize your previous employer too much, because that can show you in a negative light. Watch your nonverbal cues, like the way you sit or cross your arms. Practice active listening, seemingly simple things like nodding your head, smiling or eye contact very much affect the impression you leave. After the interview, it is appropriate to ask about what you should expect next.
Although looking for a job is often difficult and tedious, it is important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. We need to stay positive and instead of focusing on our lack of experience, focus on those skills we have so that we can use their full potential.
Autor: Marta Markov