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5 ways to put your best foot forward

5 ways to put your best foot forward

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You know that job is the role for you, but you don’t have the experience on paper. Never fear. You can overcome this barrier by inspiring employers to give you a go. Here’s how:

  1. Stress your skillset, not your experience. Job requirements are sometimes a wish list. That’s the same for experience requirements. If you show you can do the job, an employer might give you a go. You might want to create what’s called a “functional CV”. Rather than highlight the chronology of your work experience, a functional CV focuses on skills. If, for example, you’re looking for work as a data entry clerk, but have no precise experience, then create headings such as: Computer Skills, Organisational Abilities and Office Management Experience. Don’t completely hide the timeline of your history. That might lead to awkward questions being asked.
     
  2. Talk up your voluntary and study experience. Whether you’ve gained the experience at paid or volunteer work isn’t important. Your experience in the not-for-profit world might be exactly what the employer is looking for. Or the university project shows that you can manage budgets, provide insights into social media marketing or help prepare a business plan. What matters is that you have the experience organising events, holding voluntary posts, or running the university newspaper.
     
  3. Get temp work. If you haven’t got industry experience temporary work might be the answer. Even if it’s at the very bottom rung, you’ll make contacts in the organisation and the industry and gain valuable experience. You might be able to turn casual into permanent. A smart temp is often first in line for permanent jobs. If you can’t get temporary work consider applying for an internship or simply asking for work experience at your employer of choice.
     
  4. Focus on university or school projects, Were you the project manager of the school show, developed a product for sale in business school, or offered pro bono services? You may have way more “experience” than you think. Talk  up your study achievements. Hays Director Jane McNeill interviewed one group of school leavers who had entered a program in which they worked in a simulated environment to create an advertising campaign. Each member of the team was eminently employable on the back of this experience.
     
  5. Emphasise other benefits of employing you. Are you flexible? Can you work weekends? Are you prepared to study in your spare time? Perhaps you have other skills not mentioned in the key criteria that could be of benefit to the organisation. Creativity, computer skills and technology skills are becoming more and more valued in the workforce, says McNeill. She sees graduates with impressive Prezi (presentation) skills that would be snapped up by an employer. Likewise public speaking skills are highly prized in the workforce. Simply having the get up and go to fund yourself through uni often impresses employers, she adds.

Finally, these tips work best if you approach the job hunt with a positive attitude and outlook. We know it’s hard, but employers prefer employees who have their cup half full. 

Job requirements are sometimes a wish list. That’s the same for experience requirements. If you show you can do the job, an employer might give you a go.
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