Getting that first break in an industry or moving into a new field isn’t easy, especially when you are up against people with experience. It’s not impossible though, and with some hard work, a lot of ambition and confidence in yourself, it can happen. So we’ve put together some tips to help you plug those work experience gaps in your CV to get the job you want.
1. Know the industry
Knowledge is power, make your brain a sponge and soak up all the information, news and insight you can get into the industry and type of role you are aiming for. Passion goes a long way in demonstrating why you’re worth a shot.
2. Immerse yourself and have an opinion
Follow influential opinion formers in the industry, company and role you want to work in on Twitter and LinkedIn. Join relevant groups, follow blogs and sign up to forums. Post responses to questions and start to get your name and opinions out there – it will go a long way to showing your passion and knowledge on a range of subjects. Being able to confidently get your opinion across is a valuable skill in any role, but is key to demonstrating understanding and knowledge in the absence of solid experience.
3. Network your way to work
Research the path that people most commonly take to get that ideal job, connect with people through tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, and search an apply for internships, paid and unpaid to improve your network and gain some experience you can really build on.
4. Identify the skills you need
Make a list of all the skills that are valuable to (and listed in job ads for) the role you’re looking to get. Then list your own skills: technical and computer, communication, problem solving and research and managerial. Use examples of when you have demonstrated these skills successfully to tell a story of why you have what it takes to be given a go. For example, if you led a successful student campaign at university – include this in your CV. Or if you have held a volunteer position that has used these skills, include this too. Transferable skills are relevant and will demonstrate that you have the right qualities for the job.
5. Work for free
Join industry societies, volunteer and apply for internships and work experience in as many relevant places as you can, you’ll not only gain valuable experience, you’ll build a network and get a foot in the door. Once you’re in, be keen to take on responsibility, demonstrate your skills and lead projects or initiatives.
6. Ask for an interview
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Be honest and seize the opportunity to show someone how much you deserve a chance. You have a much better chance of convincing a manager to hire you if you can tell them why you’re right and demonstrate through examples, why you have the relevant experience to do the job. Be confident in your skills and ability – any recruiter will respect your passion and effort and that’s half the battle.