Careers Advice

Overcoming the inexperience hurdle

Although armed with a degree and other qualifications, graduates often struggle to get a foot on the career ladder due to a lack of work experience. One of ScotGrad’s programme managers, Cameron Scott, shares his tips on overcoming this barrier.

Published: 22/02/2017

Coming fresh out of university, many graduates don’t have experience of graduate-level work to draw upon in job applications and interviews. There are, however, steps you should consider when looking for a placement experience:

Become an industry know-it-all

Take an active interest in the subject you want to pursue a career in to boost your knowledge and understanding of the industry. Follow experts and leaders in that field on social media channels and keep up to date with the latest developments by reading trade news. Having a deeper understanding of what the key issues and trends are within your chosen sector will help you tailor what skills and experience you should be trying to develop.

Expand your skillset

The jobs market is crowded, so you have to be proactive and make sure you stand out. If you feel like you need more experience in digital marketing, consider taking a course to improve your skills. There are lots of free online courses for you to complete in you spare time, covering a whole range of topics. Check out FutureLearn, or Google's Digital Garage.

If you can identify a key trait that employers are looking for in your chosen specialism, take up a hobby that will help you develop those skills.

Transferrable experience

Throughout your university career, you will have developed a lot of skills and accumulated experiences that are transferrable to the working world. You may have led teams on academic projects, volunteered with student bodies, or competed in sports. Any of these examples would have taught you lessons and given you experience in handling situations that may be similar to those you’d face at work. You should articulate your knowledge in your CV, application and interview.

How are you presenting yourself?

“Experience” is a broad, all-encompassing term, but some forms of experience are more valuable than others. For example, if you are looking for a career in engineering, having previously worked in a marketing role might not seem as relevant.  Instead of highlighting the differences, focus on the lessons you learnt and the transferable skills you developed when you are articulating your experience. Think about the role you're looking for and the sector that you’re interested in, and tailor your CV and experience to suit each placement specification - you'll have lots to talk about if you've followed tips 1, 2 and 3!

Land a ScotGrad placement

Placements through ScotGrad are designed to give you that first piece of graduate-level work experience at some of Scotland’s fastest growing organisations - a sure-fire way to help kick-start your graduate career and boost your CV. Keep an eye on ScotGrad’s Twitter and LinkedIn, and sign up for alerts to keep on top of available placements. For tips on impressing employers, visit our careers advice page and check out our advice blogs.