We have all seen it before. A company advertises an entry-level job opening, and fresh graduates get all excited about it. They rush to apply but stop in their tracks when they see that the company requires them to have at least “1 to 2 years of relevant work experience.” Now, here’s where things start to get a bit dicey because how in the world can any “fresh graduate” boast of two years’ experience?
In the rapidly evolving world of job search, most fresh graduates find themselves in a catch-22 situation. They apply for an entry-level job in order to get experience, but they need to have some experience to land the job! To them, it’s the most insane thing employers could ever ask!
So, why is it important for fresh graduates to have work experience, and how can they go about it? Well, I’m about to “talk” about that. Without further ado, let’s cut to the chase and dive right in!
What Counts as Relevant Work Experience?
So, what counts as relevant work experience for fresh graduates? Relevant work experience describes past work experience that’s relevant to your target/dream job. Its relevance depends on the required skills or knowledge.
However, it’s important to know that you don’t need to have held the same job title or worked in that particular industry for your experience to count as relevant. What’s important is that you show that you have acquired relevant transferable skills. The “where” or “how” you gained them is of lesser significance.
Why is it Important to Have Work Experience?
- Employer preferences
- Competitive advantage
- Relevant skills
- Track records
- Networking opportunities
- Employers Want People with Experience
According to a report, over 65% of employers prefer to hire candidates with relevant experience. But why do employers place importance on work experience even when screening fresh graduates? Well, it’s because they want to know what an applicant has done to show long-standing interest in a particular field or work area.
Suppose an applicant has taken the initiative to gather some work experience during school. In that case, it shows, to a great extent, the level of passion, interest, and foresight such a person has for their career. Every employer wants these qualities in their employees.
Therefore, if you’ve been declined the opportunity to work for/with a company because you lack “experience,” you don’t have to take it on the company or recruiters.
- You’ll Get Ahead in An Increasingly Competitive Job Market
Have you ever watched a 100-meter dash sprint race? It is the shortest event in the Olympics, lasting about 13 seconds. However, it’s highly competitive, and athletes prepare months in advance. So, are we suddenly talking about the Olympics now? No. But there’s a crucial lesson here.
In sprint events, a good sprint start is important to winning the race. While it does not mean a good start will always win the race, it’s an added advantage. Now, imagine having a 30-meter advantage over other competitors in a 100-meter race. That’s the advantage a work experience can give you – it’s amazing!
Getting the job is a sprint race, and that’s the focus of this article. However, surviving in a corporate world is a marathon. Only the shrewdest employees get to rise the ranks. You can arm yourself with insights into how the corporate world works by discovering the 12 biggest lessons from the corporate world.
- You Get to Develop Relevant Employability Skills
Do you have the necessary skills to help you thrive in your workplace? Employability skills are a set of highly desirable and transferable skills. These skills can make you a very attractive candidate because employers desire those skills in potential employees.
But, without the opportunities to learn and develop relevant employability skills, you may be sidelined from the recruitment process. Examples of 10 of the most sought-after employability skills are:
- Communication skills
- Time management
- Technology use
- Information use
- Personality traits (e.g., transparency, confidence, drive, etc.)
- It’s an Opportunity to Get a Track Record
Valuable work experience is a strong indicator of productivity, especially when you have a proven track record. Your achievement can be written as a work accomplishment in your CV.
Having past achievements in a workplace indicates that you can have the same or even better achievements given the proper working conditions and opportunities.
- The Opportunity to Network
People can play significant roles in your progress on your career path. That’s why it’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of networking! Wherever you go, always have it at the back of your mind to network.
If you have interned or volunteered in an organization before, the chances are that you’ll have met more people and formed more networks. Although you don’t necessarily need work experience to network, it sure helps a lot. People you have worked with are your potential referees. And sometimes, the only thing standing between you and your dream job is the quality of your references.
That said, I’d like to show you how you can get relevant work experience.
How to Get Relevant Work Experience?
So, how can you get some relevant work experience? Well, you can get relevant experience from almost anywhere, such as:
- Previous jobs
- Programming projects
- Academic projects; and
- Extracurricular activities.
The most effective ways to get relevant work experience are through internships and volunteering.
Internships are special programs where you gain hands-on experiences while acquiring specific skill sets in a professional line of work. Here, the organization defines the time of work. While getting paid is not the goal here, some organization pay their interns stipends.
Internships are very excellent ways to gain knowledge about your chosen niche or career. Here are some benefits of interning with reputable organizations.
- You apply your education and explore your career
- You gain experience and increase your market value
- You can create a great network
- You learn soft and hard skills
- You understand how your workplace operates
- You build your resume
- You learn from others
- You get professional feedback
- You figure what you like and what you don’t
- You gain confidence.
Volunteering focuses on working for the good or benefit of others without any personal gain or remuneration. Here, you volunteer to impact the lives of others locally or around the world in a unique way. You offer your time, skills, and talents and also learn along the way. For example, if you choose to volunteer, you acquire great people skills to help you in your career.
The benefits of volunteering are numerous. They include:
- Improving and empowering the lives of people
- Enriching your life
- Boosting your professional career
- Finding your passion and identifying career goals
- Gaining experience and developing skills
- Meeting new people and expanding your network
- Building your self-confidence
- Improving your employability
- Gaining real-world experiences
- Making an impact
You can have several work experiences. For example, you can be an intern, a volunteer, and a freelancer or tutor. Therefore, as an undergraduate or a fresh graduate, it is wise to seek volunteering, interning, and other work opportunities. This will cumulatively enhance the chances of getting your dream job.
Having relevant work experience can set you apart from other job applicants! You can land your dream job even as a fresh graduate. if you have the relevant experience! Therefore, if you’re a new graduate with any work experience, it will do you a lot of good to highlight them on your resume and cover letter! And if you haven’t, now is a perfect time to start.
You can apply for job openings even if you don’t meet the required length of experience. Just put in your application as long as you have some relevant experience. Usually, job requirements are written with the “ideal” candidate in mind. But while you might not be ideal, you can be perfect for the job.