15 December 2022

How To Overcome Lack of Experience In Job Interviews

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In 2022, the UK government revealed Graduate employment rate saw a slight increase of 0.4% since 2020 up to 86.7%.

However, our research still shows that 64% of UK respondents have been rejected from their first job application because of their lack of experience – an issue which many graduates continue to face when it comes to applying for their first job.

The hardest industries to break into without experience

When asked which industries our respondents were rejected from because of their lack of experience, accountancy/banking/finance and retail both came out on top at 16%.

One in ten also said they were rejected from IT and engineering/manufacturing jobs due to a lack of experience. Want to see where your industry fits in all this?

Find the percentage of rejections by industry in the table below.

Industry% of rejections
Accountancy, banking and finance16%
Engineering and manufacturing10%
Business, consulting and management9%
Public services and administration8%
Charity and voluntary work5%
Teacher training and education5%
Leisure, sport and tourism4%
Transport and logistics4%
Creative arts and design4%
Property and construction4%
Energy and utilities3%
Marketing, advertising and PR3%
Recruitment and HR2%
Environment and agriculture2%
Social care2%
Law enforcement and security2%
Science and pharmaceuticals0.9%
% of rejections by industry

Belfast is the city you’ll most likely find a job in without experience

Which region rejects first-time applicants the most due to ‘lack of experience’?

Is there a city where first time applicants have a better chance of avoiding rejection? Apparently so!

Inexperienced graduates in Leeds are most likely to not see their application progress, with three quarters saying they’ve been rejected from jobs for this reason.

Belfast appears to be the most likely city to get a job without experience, as rejections sit 22 percentage points below the national average [42% vs. 64% national average]. Grand!

CityAmount rejected from first job due to ‘lack of experience’
% of candidates rejected from their first job due to ‘lack of experience’

How to stop lack of experience interfering with your job applications

We know it can sometimes seem like an impossible situation for graduates to break into their chosen career sector.

However, rejection is often due to applicants not using the process to really show off the skills that they do already attain. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to shout about them from the rooftops.

Here are our top tips to reduce your chances of rejection due to a lack of experience:

Target entry-level positions

Firstly, try and be realistic, don’t target positions you know are going to be too competitive for the experience you lack. Instead, focus on applying for entry-level positions that put less weight on experience and more importance on what you can bring to the table.

Champion the skills acquired from university

Think about the topics you’ve studied in your course. What experience have you gained from assessments: your theoretical knowledge or simulated ideas? Make a song and dance about your learnings and demonstrate what each has taught you that can be applied to the industry you’re applying to.

Show off your extra curricular efforts

Whilst you may not have direct experience, any volunteering, internships, or part-time jobs you’ve participated in will have built transferable skills that are crucial to your career success. It could be waitressing at your local pub, doing the paper round or babysitting. Make sure you stick it in!

Practice your interview techniques

Finally, spend time perfecting your interviewing skills. The more you practice, the more confidence you will show in the aspects of the job description you do have and will put less emphasis on your lack of experience. This is your time to shine.

Highlight all of your skills with your CV

You can place emphasis on the skills you do acquire well before the interview process. This is where your student CV takes centre stage. Use this opportunity to set the scene for what else you have to offer beyond direct experience when applying for your first job. You’ve got this!