Experience. You already have it… Now flaunt it.

Applying for jobs can be an on-going battle. You scan the job description and mindlessly tick “yes” to the skills you match and “no” to the requirements you don’t quite fit.

You reach the end of the advertisement and feel quietly confident – this is it, the perfect graduate role – until you see the final the bullet point: ‘minimum 2 years experience’.

Frustrated, your under-caffeinated brain is thinking:

  1. How will I ever get enough experience?
  2. I know I can do this job. They just need to give me a go.
  3. Sod it. I give up.

Don’t lose the battle! Persevere! You already have more experience than you realise, you just need to flaunt it.

One // You don’t have to tick all the boxes.  

What you need to know is that employers are aware they are not going to find someone who literally ticks all the boxes. They write a list of all the things they would ideally like a candidate to have but they leave room for compromise.

It’s important for you to think outside the box about the experience you already have; I’m not just talking about internships, volunteer positions and extra side projects (even though they all count).

Think about your part-time or casual job. If you work in retail or hospitality you’ve worked in a fast-paced environment, within a team, shared responsibilities and provided high quality service. That’s four skills employers will be broadly looking for that you have (helpful tip: list these in your cover letter)!

Two // There are easy ways to skill-up.

If they are after a skill that you might not have yet and cannot leverage on any experience, hop onto an online class for a few hours (hint: Lynda, Udemy, Skillshare or Coursera).

Look into freelancing sites and see if you can sell your skills and gain experience (we love Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr, Airtasker). The aim here is to gain examples of work you have done (being paid for it is also a bonus).

Ask your faculty adviser (or lecturers) of any university-related opportunities such as internships or special projects that they could be running.

Three // Know what you don’t know … and own it.

Remember that while employers may talk about specific programs needed for the job, even if you do not have experience with the exact program they are asking for, chances are you have already worked with other similar programs. Don’t discount this!

But remember, communication is key. Acknowledge and own what you don’t know up front, and explain what you do know – emphasising that you are a young, versatile and enthusiastic professional who is willing to learn and transfer skills.

Remember that in entry-level roles, a positive mindset and commitment to work hard is what will help you stand out of the crowd. Try not to be disheartened throughout your job-hunt journey; what you’re seeking is also seeking you.