Today marks the start of National Careers Week #NCW2022 where the theme is all about YOU, to help you to dream big, explore your options and find what is best for you. So let’s start by looking at how you show employers how truly amazing you are.
With many of the students, graduates, and young professionals I work with, they find it very hard to sell themselves at interview as they feel they lack experience. Whilst the reality is that straight after university or even in the early years of your career, you won’t have a huge amount of work experience to talk about, there are lots of other ways you can talk about the amazing skills you do have. But don’t forget, you must always evidence these i.e give examples of when you’ve used them and the positive impact that had.
Getting involved with a good cause
It’s well known that both Millennials and Gen Z care about making a positive impact on the world and so it’s perhaps no surprise that often they want that from a career as well. To do a role where you make a difference, in whatever guise, it’s really useful to show you have skills of empathy, understanding, a positive attitude and innovative approach to problem solving. You can show this through volunteering for an already established charity, good cause or particular event, or also by designing a solution yourself, such as coming up with a new way of fundraising. Take 10 year old Luka’s example who is raising money for the Red Cross by completing a 7 hour strumathon: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/luka-strumathon – not only helping a worthy cause but something great to put on his CV and talk about at interviews when he is older.
Starting a YouTube channel, podcast, or IG channel
It’s really common to feel very frustrated when you’re starting out that you can’t get a role with no experience but can’t get that experience. Even activities like volunteering can sometimes be tricky to find, so much like proactive fundraising, setting up things yourself can often be the solution. There is very much a viable career path for influencers now but even if your career dreams lie elsewhere, setting up something like a YouTube channel can show various skills with everything from technical ability to communication. It is also a great way to show a bit of your personality; remember employers are looking for potential employees who are a good culture and team fit so personality and attitude are just as important as experience.
University projects or sports clubs
Talking about your degree at interview seems obvious but teasing out information on things like bigger projects, where you’ve had to manage your time and work with others effectively are good things to discuss at interview. But always remember, don’t just talk about what the team did, they’re not looking to hire that team, they want to know what you did, what role you played, the impact your actions had on that team and that project as a whole.
And outside of the degree itself, there will be a whole host of things you do which you can talk about at interview, including taking part in various clubs and activities. Playing Rugby doesn’t just show your skill in that sport, there are a whole host of other skills including organisation, problem solving and drive.
Taking part in an industry challenge or day or getting some form of work experience
There are a whole host of ways to tap into the employer market and gain experience. Many employers will offer work experience placements, industry placements or challenge days to get involved with. You can find out about these through good quality careers websites or researching companies you are particularly interested in and then approaching them to find out if they offer anything. And if you’re not sure what companies even are out there, attending a local or virtual careers fair is a great place to start. https://nationalcareersweek.com/ has a great virtual careers fair this year, go check it out.
Whatever option you choose, if you’re offering your services for free, make sure you are definitely going to get something out of it and not just be used as a free resource. I discuss this more in this video here: https://vimeopro.com/farillio/student-careers-with-caroline-green/video/664328608 with the fabulous Merlie Calvert, CEO of Farillo, when I gave advice on all things Graduate careers.
Many professions have a professional membership body, for example I am a member of both the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development) and CDI (Career Development Institute). It is useful to join these to help build up your knowledge and experience, find out about companies offering insight days or challenges, network with others, attend training and CPD events and learn how to speak the lingo of your sector so when attending interviews, you sound much more knowledgeable.