It’s the age-old paradox. Employers want candidates with job experience, but how does your student gain job experience if an employer won’t give them a job? Fortunately, we have some tips that can give your student an edge in landing a job even with no job experience.
Show off their skills
Showcasing their skills is a great way for your student to highlight specific areas they excel in, especially if they don’t have direct job experience. They should spotlight their high-level organization skills that they learned from being a busy college student. They just need to make sure that they understand how their skills relate to the job. It’s one thing to know they’re good at planning their study schedule, but it’s another to understand how a manager will see those skills as useful to their organization.
Experience is everywhere
Remind your student that not all experience comes from paid positions. It can come from volunteering, side hustles, student group roles, athletics and more.
Your student is in college to learn and gain experiences that will help them reach their goals. Having a plan and executing it is an important skill, and that’s just what they’re doing in college — executing a four- (or more) year plan. There are many things your student learns in classes that can be used to highlight their skills as well — group project skills like leadership and collaboration, public speaking and presentation delivery, and outcomes from assignments they’re proud of.
Cater to their audience
When describing their experience, your student should think about who they’re trying to appeal to. If it’s a specific company or interest area, they should do some research. Encourage them to meet with a career advisor to discuss their goals and learn what employers are looking for. Then they should adjust their resume and talking points to match. Knowing what a hiring manager is looking for can help your student highlight those skills if they have them, instead of focusing on something else that may not be as relevant to the employer.
Lastly, your student should focus on sharing their experience with anyone who asks. Here’s where it’s good for them to cover things in a more general way. Encourage them to practice their elevator pitch (a 30-second pitch about them and their experience and skills that could be shared on a short elevator ride) on friends, mentors and their career advisor. Then they should take constructive feedback and use it to improve. Once they have it down, they should start sharing it with people they meet — maybe even on an elevator.