How to get experience before you get experience

Many graduate applicants have seen that most graduate schemes require previous work experience, particularly skills related to the role you are applying for. “So you are telling me I have to get experience before I get experience?” many of you have asked? This time we focus on the ways of getting experience or ‘digging’ into your past to find skills which can be applied for graduate scheme applications.


Analyse your past

At this point, it is really important to think of any activities that you benefited from in terms of acquiring transferrable skills or technical skills which can be linked to the role. For example, if you supported your family business over the summer in the office during which you developed organisations skills, this can be one example to put on your CV. Reflection is key, therefore, considering mind maps or simply listing all experience and skills acquired can be useful.

Year 1, year 2 and year 3 – University Experience

If you are a recent graduate or ‘fresher’ who going to explore university life in September, there are (or going to be) different academic assignments you can mention in your application. So what is that you can capture from the experience? Transferrable skills such as communication is essential when completing group projects which can easily be integrated into your skills section. If you are a workaholic who balanced university, volunteering, part-time job or course representative activities – time management can be added onto your list of developed skills whilst studying at university.


Volunteered a couple of hours at your local community centre or completed a Volunteering Add+vantage module? If you are interested to get involved there are different ways to do this: volunteer at reception, provide administration help, work with young people etc.. For example, fundraising is beneficial for those applying for Sales or Marketing jobs as you can demonstrate your knowledge of selling a product or service. Contact the SU Volunteering and Employability Service for volunteering opportunities.

If you are that kind of person who likes travelling then why not to combine volunteering and travelling? There are various programmes available to students to make an impact on international basis. Refer to your university’s international office and enquire what you are eligible to apply for. Alternatively, visit the International Experience and Mobility Service department.

Placement or Internship

If you are a first or second year student looking ahead then searching and applying for a placement is your ‘number two’ on your ‘to do’ list (‘number one’ is to focus on your studies).

Getting a placement can help you to ‘get experience’ before a graduate job as whilst applying for placements you are already building on your experience of ‘job hunting’. Skills you develop and learn during your ‘getting experience’ time can positively influence future applications – you can provide real life examples, develop the right skills and boost your commercial awareness. Other points that can be added onto your list are work ethics – what you believe is acceptable to do in the workplace and diversity – working with people from different backgrounds.

Not sure where to search for a placement – check Coventry University Prospects.


Create your own experience (DIY)

Read all of the above and you still can’t think of any experience related to your application? You do not need to get employed to create your own DIY. Examples of DIY experience may include website design & content creation, blogging, event organisation etc. Basically, mock up some relevant designs & projects and use them as your work examples.

Have you applied a different approach to your assignment or any other task? This is your chance to link your creative thinking to applications as sometimes employers consider applicants who have little experience but have willingness and enthusiasm to acquire those skills required for the role. Be creative and think outside of the box!

How do I go about creating my CV?

The key point in creating your CV is to demonstrate your skills. Therefore, considering the skills-based CV is a good idea. And remember your task is to show what you can offer not what you lack.

Good luck.

By Karina


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Posted on August 22, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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