It isn’t always easy to find work experience. Discover how you can help yourself.

I recently took part in a career’s day at Manchester Metropolitan University in conjunction with the Royal Society of Biology. This day was aimed at helping and guiding students who were graduating this year to prepare themselves for the world of work. I was there to sit with students for 15-20 minutes and answer any questions they had on interview techniques. The biggest question asked on the day was “I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience, but I can’t get experience because nobody will give me a job. Help!”

So, I thought I might be helpful for me to share what I told them. It’s true that employers look for experience, but it does depend on the job being advertised. Those that are looking for graduates will realise that they probably won’t have experience however with hundreds of graduates coming out of university every year you need to get the edge over the competition.

You should start looking for work experience as soon as you can as some companies have a long waiting list. Make a list of the companies you would like to work with as they may have details on their website of how to apply. If they don’t, it is still worth sending them a covering letter together with your CV explaining that you would like to do work experience. Try to find out the name of the person you need to contact so you can personally address them. You should then follow it up a week later with a phone call or email. This shows that you are serious.

It’s not what you know it’s who you know. Its always worth talking to friends, family, neighbours, colleagues etc. to see if they know anyone who works in you field on interest. They could put in a good word for you. Trust me it works. I’ve been in this position.

It also has to be said that you may need to consider the fact that you may not get paid for some work experience. It’s a harsh truth but any experience is good experience even if its just a couple of weeks over the summer.

Finally, don’t give up if you keep getting rejected. Its tough out there and competition is high. Keep tweaking your cv and covering letter.

A small change can sometimes make a big difference!