How to get a graduate job with no experience

Sep 8, 2019

So, you’ve bagged yourself a degree, and now you want to land yourself a graduate job. The only thing is, you have no experience. Don’t worry, because in this post, we will tell you how to get a graduate job with no experience.

1: Reflect on your time at university 

You may actually have a lot more experience than you think!

Perhaps you feel as though you do not have any relevant work experience to the types of graduate job that you’d like to apply for.

However, you will have gained some transferable skills from taking part in other activities that will be valuable to employers.

Here are some activities you may have taken part in during your time at university:

  • Work shadowing

some universities have work shadowing schemes that allow students to shadow members of staff in different departments or arrange for students to take part in work shadowing experiences with local businesses. Maybe you arranged to shadow a professional in a work environment.

  • Volunteering

have you taken part in any volunteering activities at, or outside of university? Volunteering can help you to develop a wide variety of skills.

Furthermore, as you start your job search you may realise that a lot of the companies that you are interested in may encourage employees to volunteer for a few days every year. If a company has a culture that promotes giving back to the local community, your volunteering experience may be impressive to potential employers.

  • Leadership roles within university societies

Have you held any leadership positions within a society at your university?

It can be extremely difficult to balance running a society with your academics. Doing so requires time management and organisational skills which are relevant skills to all graduate roles.

Even if you wasn’t the president or vice president of a society, any role you took that helped to run the society will be relevant.

  • Sports

There are lots of opportunities to take part in sports at university.

Most sports require developing teamwork skills which will be relevant for all graduate jobs or graduate schemes that you apply for.

  • Maintaining a part-time job

Did you have a part-time job whilst you were studying? if so, you will have gained relevant experiences that will prove to be valuable for your graduate position.

  • Course-related experiences

University courses are designed to help students to develop skills that will be useful for the workplace.

Your course probably required you to take part in group assignments, presentations, essays and reports and more.

If you took part in an activity as part of your course that helped you to develop some specific skills, that can also count as experience.

Key takeaway

Don’t dismiss any previous experience that you have gained just because you may feel that it is not relevant.

Recruiters will understand that for their graduate and entry-level positions, candidates may not have a lot of experience that is directly related to the role. However, they will be interested in what skills you have gained and developed from the experiences you do have.

Remember, your unique combination of experiences is what makes you stand out from the crowd!

Conduct a Skills Audit

Now that you have reflected on your time at university, it’s time to conduct a skills audit.

Write down all of the skills that you have gained from the activities you took part in during university.

No matter what types of graduate jobs you apply for, all graduate recruiters will look for the following 6 skills:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Organisation and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Using your own initiative

For each of the skills listed above, draw upon the experiences gained at university to demonstrate that you have those skills.

This exercise will be helpful when it comes to filling out job applications and preparing for interviews.

After conducting an audit of your skills, identify what your career typology is.

All graduate jobs can be categorised into three groups:

  • Communicators
  • Knowledge architects
  • Specialists

Check out our post on CV-Library called How to discover your career path for more information on career typologies and identifying which of the three career typologies you belong to.

Once you have identified your career typology, you’ll be able to easily create a shortlist of jobs with job descriptions suited to your skills and interests.

Key takeaway

Employers will be looking for evidence that graduates are able to solve problems, communicate, work as a team organise themselves, act professional and use their own initiative. Even if you do not have any formal work experience, you should be able to demonstrate that you have those 6 key skills.

Improve your CV

Once you have a better understanding of your experiences, skills and career typology, you can start working on your CV.

By this point, it won’t be a case of writing a CV with no experience.

All of the activities that you listed in step one can all be added to your CV.

The key is to write an achievement-based CV.

We have put together a wide range of resources on how to write an achievement-based CV

There’s a whole section on it in The Student Book which contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want.

We also collaborated with Chris Pennington from Your CV Consultant which outlines 4 tips on writing a winning graduate CV.

Applications and interviews

Now that you have your CV ready and you have narrowed down a list of suitable careers, you can start sending your applications.

Whilst sending out your applications keep a spreadsheet containing a list of the companies you have applied to and any feedback that you get.

The application process for graduate jobs usually involves:

  • submitting an online form
  • completing online tests i.e psychometric tests
  • a telephone or video interview
  • an assessment centre with group tasks and a face to face interview

Graduate job interviews might seem daunting if you feel as though you haven’t got any work experience that is directly relevant to the role. However, as we discovered in step 1, you will have gained experiences during your time at university that employers will be very interested in.

Being able to perform highly in interviews is a lifelong skill.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been helping students and graduates to prepare for interviews for over a decade now. We offer one to one interview coaching and we have an online interview course called Nail that interview.

Build and maintain your network

When it comes to knowing how to get a graduate job with “no experience” networking will come in very handy.

First of all, ensure that your social media profiles are fully optimised, especially your LinkedIn profile.

Keep an eye out for networking events hosted by the companies you are interested in. Also, find out if there are any upcoming graduate career fairs.

Attending career fairs will give you the opportunity to meet graduate recruiters in person.

Be sure to dress to impress and be able to confidently articulate who you are and what you are looking for.

How to get a graduate job with no experience

Get help

If you have read this post and are still unsure of how to get a graduate job with no experience, get in touch with us!

We are here to help!

We offer a wide range of services designed to help students, graduates and career changers to turn their degrees into careers.

So far our coaching and careers advice has helped over 500 people! Check out our successes!

How to get a graduate job with no experience: Summary

We hope you have found this post on how to get a graduate job with no experience valuable!

The chances are, even though you may feel as though you do not have any work experience, you probably have! Remember, at this stage in your career, it’s not necessarily about having a ton of highly relevant experience.

Graduate recruiters will be looking for the skills that you have gained from the experiences you do have. Even if these experiences have been gained from extracurricular activities.

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