14 October 2016
Applying For Placements… When You Haven’t Got Any Previous Experience
You’ve decided to embark on a placement year but have come across a fallen tree. A stumbling block.
‘I don’t have any of the previous work experience that the employer is looking for’.
It’s important to remember that everyone begins from scratch, so you are not alone.
If you’re stuck in a rut, have a look at some tips we’ve put together to help you apply for placements when you are lacking experience.
Identify your skills
You might not have all of the qualifications or the experience for a particular role. It happens. The chances are, however, you have a skill set that contains those abilities anyway.
Begin by listing as many of the skills and achievements you possess. This could be anything from communication skills you’ve learnt at university, or teamwork skills you’ve picked up from being part of a sports team.
Have a look at the job description and match the skills you have to each of the requirements.
For example, if the job description states that you will be responsible for updating schedules and working closely with management to update them of any changes, you can emphasise that you have strong organisational and communication skills.
Soft skills are important because these can’t really be taught. Showcase your professionalism, responsiveness and your ability to communicate as these are the skills that will serve as a counterweight to your lack of experience.
Know your skills
It’s also useful to have an awareness of what is happening in an industry.
Is a relevant company or subject in the news? Have there been major developments or changes that have affected the industry? This information will undoubtedly impress an employer.
Your knowledge will help you pad out your CV. Even if you do not have any previous experience working in the industry, an awareness of what is happening will show the employer that you have gone out of your way to discover future trends.
At university, you might have had assignments or a project which required you to research an industry. Use the information you have found out whilst completing this to help you in your job application.
- UNIVERSITY LIFE | Current and former students reveal how to make the most out of your time at university
- PLACEMENT ADVICE | Advice articles about finding and applying for the UK’s best placement schemes.
- APPLICATION TIPS | Essential guides to CVs, cover letters, assessment centres and interviews.
Write a killer CV and cover letter
Once you have identified your skills, you will then be able to start your CV.
List all of your transferable skills and your applicable skills at the top of your CV so at first glance the recruiter will be able to see that you have a strong skill set which will take you far within that role.
Experience doesn’t have to come from traditional jobs, and you might have skills that have developed in other areas of your life.
For example, at university you will have gained a lot of interpersonal and teamwork skills, so make sure this comes through in the education section of your CV.
Your cover letter is your chance to convince the hiring manager why they should hire you over other candidates. It needs to explain why you are excited about the opportunity and what you hope to bring to the organisation.
While you might not be able to list the experience you have had, you can consider the skills you’ve learned throughout your education and outside of formal education which will help you succeed in the job role.
For example, you might have a passion for graphic design and have exceptional Photoshop skills, so if you are applying for a graphic design placement you can communicate these skills which will really make you stand out.
Enthusiasm will take you far
If you show the employer that you are enthusiastic about the position and that you have the skills to help you in the role then this will take your application far.
Embrace your lack of experience and leverage it as motivation to learn and make this shine in your applications. Highlight your dedication and commitment to growing within your job role as recruiters are looking for candidates who are positive and are willing to work hard.
You should also put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Ask yourself ‘why should they hire me?’ and this will help you identify what you should be including in your application.
Take our advice on board, and don’t let lack of experience hold you back from applying for a fantastic placement scheme!
We have vacancies for placements with some of the UK’s top employers in a crazy range of industries. Apply today!