PS Tip 70 : What if I don’t have any experience?

This is one of the most common questions I get from university and graduate job applicants, and it’s something that many people get quite anxious over. Thankfully, it’s by no means insurmountable, so don’t panic unduly.

First off, make sure that it’s actually true. It often turns out that whilst an applicant does have direct, paid work experience in a particular area, they do have something that can be used instead. Voluntary work and unpaid work experience are great sources of content for personal statements, as are extracurricular activities. If you’ve setup or helped manage a club or society at or outside school, college or university, that is useful experience. It requires organisation, leadership ability and the ability to motivate yourself when you really don’t feel like it – these are skills that employers and educational institutions value highly.

Sometimes, however, you will be confronted with a situation where you genuinely don’t have experience of something on a job or course spec. If you really can’t cobble anything together to demonstrate that you have at least some experience, and you still want to go ahead with the application, you’ll have to front-up and admit that you don’t have it.

I’d recommend that you do some research so that you can demonstrate understanding of the problem area, and beyond that it’s important to appear enthusiastic about gaining the experience in future. Both universities and employers will usually be willing to overlook your weaknesses if you do a sufficiently good job of selling your strengths and enthusiasm. Just bear in mind that if you are missing something important that the job/course requires you’re going to need to do a really good job of selling everything else.

<< Tip 69 KISS >>

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