Why is Work Experience Important for Graduate Job Hunters?

Everyone has been there; you find the perfect job advert and then… ‘Must have at least 2 years’ experience’. For graduate job hunters, there is nothing more frustrating than trying to get entry-level jobs within their chosen career when every employer seems to want experience. So, why is work experience important?

If the vicious ‘I need experience to get experience’ cycle sounds all too familiar, it helps to understand why work experience is important and how to get it. Keep reading to find out more.


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Why is work experience important?

Well, aside from the obvious fact that experienced applicants can clearly do the job, graduate recruiters have their reasons for wanting to hire them. Some jobs will want industry-specific experience, others will just want to see that you have had some previous work experience.

Either way, if you’ve ever wondered why work experience is so important, here’s why:

  1. It shows commitment to your career/the role: Many graduates are still making up their minds about their future, some chop and choose roles at will. Experienced candidates, however, have already demonstrated that they have either settled on a path or are already established in the world of work in the eyes of an employer.
  1. It demonstrates drive: To employers, a candidate’s level of drive, enthusiasm and ambition is an important factor, especially in young people and graduates. If you’re a new graduate who has already had experience or work placements, it shows how seriously you take your career.
  1. It evidences transferrable skills: Do you have great communication skills? Are you organised? Or confident? Can you deal with customers? Are your interpersonal skills top notch? Whatever your specific skill-set, your work experience acts as proof of your attributes.
  1. It looks good on your CV: An empty CV is not a good thing! Even if you’re still weighing up your career options, work experience, of any kind, gives some substance to your CV.
  1. It boosts your commercial awareness: Employers want to see commercial awareness, business knowledge or even a basic understanding of a professional work environment. Work experience will give your employability a boost and will help you succeed in your graduate job applications.

The graduate job market is competitive

Remember, you’re up against some fierce competition. You could be facing candidates who already have some pretty impressive work experience. A lack of work experience could result in difficulty finding a job. So, it’s not so much about asking Why is work experience important?, it’s about being proactive and doing whatever you can to get ahead of the game!

Work experience is also great for those graduates or soon-to-be-grads who are still weighing up their career options. Exposure to a professional environment could help you to realise where your strengths and passions lie.

How do I get work experience?

It’s pretty clear by now that work experience is a big deal. However, it’s not always straightforward, especially when so many recruiters and employers want to hire experienced graduates.

It can often feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, but don’t get disheartened, you still have plenty of options available that will help you to develop the skills and experience employers want.

Whilst you’re still at university:

  • Get a weekend or part-time job, just a few hours a week could do wonders for your future!
  • See if there are any jobs available on campus
  • Do a summer internship or work experience
  • Get involved in volunteering
  • Get help from your university careers department

These also apply once you finish university, but graduates could also consider the following.

After graduation:

  • Look for graduate training programmes or junior roles that don’t require experience
  • Do unpaid work experience in your chosen field
  • Speak to your university careers advisor and attend graduate fairs
  • If you’re going travelling after uni, try working abroad

The secret

Your graduate job, sadly, isn’t going to come to you. Good graduate jobs are filled by applicants who worked hard to get them. Luckily, the graduate job market is looking good, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels.

The key to finally receiving that highly coveted job offer comes down to this: persistence, proactivity and positivity. If you don’t have work experience, get out there and make it happen! If you have work experience, but you still aren’t getting the job, ask for feedback so you can improve for next time. Or, even better, seize any opportunity to gain relevant experience.

Bringing it all together

As a graduate keen to start their career, it can be frustrating for employers to expect experience. Why is work experience important? Well, the truth is, it doesn’t matter why it’s important. What matters is the fact that if you want to net your ideal graduate job, you’re going to need some experience.

The good news is, if you explore all of your options and keep trying to boost your experience and employability, you’ll be on the road to success in no time!

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