Getting your first job or a job in a new industry can be difficult. Employers want you to have experience, but often you need to be given the opportunity in order to get that experience. So what do you do?
We asked Liz Duncan, Recruitment Manager for UniSuper (AU), as well as Absolute IT (NZ) Directors Tina Ng and Grant Burley and their Senior Consultant Patrick Lane what you should do when you have no experience, and what you should put on your resume.
- Highlight your great attitude. Ever wondered why so many job ads list a “can-do attitude” as one of the role requirements? That’s because it applies to all jobs across the board! “Hiring managers are hiring for attitude,” says Duncan. “In entry-level roles hiring managers are looking for candidates with a desire to learn, a strong work ethic and good interpersonal skills. The rest can be taught, but a great attitude is gold. So find ways to highlight yours in your cover letter or personal statement in your CV.” Ng recommends doing this by explaining how your positive attitude has led to positive actions. “Include your personal achievements, as it’s all about attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to get somewhere.”
- Call out your transferable skills. Often hirers care more about the fact that you have the skills to do the job rather than that you’ve actually done the job itself. So focus on the transferable skills you’ve picked up while doing other jobs, volunteering or working on passion projects. “For example, over the years we have seen a lot of success with chefs transferring into IT,” Lane says. “They tend to be organised, able to multitask effectively, be deadline and outcome-driven and not afraid of hard work.” When identifying your own transferable skills, provide examples of when you used them, as this tells recruiters and employers how you can perform, not just that you can.
- Connect with the recruiter or hiring manager. Don’t just send your application and hope for the best. Unless the ad explicitly says “no phone calls,” pick up the phone and introduce yourself to the hiring manager and start a dialogue about the role. If you can’t talk to them, look up the company online so that you can connect with the recruiter in the interview. “Find out about where your potential employer sits in the industry,” says Burley. “Are they a leader or an up-and-comer? Have they had any recent successes? Is there something happening in the industry that you could complete some brief research on and develop an opinion on?”
- Have an elevator pitch. Your resume should have a brief personal statement clarifying your career objective, but you should also be able to articulate this in person. Many companies now ask candidates to complete a video interview at home as part of the application process. Duncan recommends that you, “start practising your ‘elevator pitch’” so that you’re prepared. “Your CV can move to the top of the shortlist if you come across as genuine, able to speak clearly and having some energy or passion. So start practising on your phone now!”
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Often employers care more about the fact that you have the skills to do the job rather than that you've actually done the job itself.