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Applying for grad jobs without 'professional' experience? Here’s how to sell yourself

Stephanie Burn

Director, uGrad Interviewing
You’re about to finish university, and looking for your dream grad job. But how do you land that all important first-round interview?

You have strong grades, and play some sport, but hey, so do the tens and sometimes hundreds of other applicants.

So how can you show an employer how fantastic you are?

Making your experiences relevant

You’ve never worked in an office before. And you’ve never interned or volunteered before.

You’ve worked in a handful of bars and shops whilst completing your degree.

Ever wondered if your bar job and retail experience are relevant to a graduate position? The answer is yes!

Ever wondered how on earth you can make your bar job and retail experience sound meaningful to your would-be graduate employer?

All experiences are relevant and can be marketed to a potential employer to show how you can add value to their business.

The trick is in knowing strategies to sell that particular experience in a certain way, in order to show that employer:

  • why your experience is relevant; and
  • how that experience can help their business!

If you’re still unsure, take Sally and her experience as an example.

Sally’s part-time job at the call centre

Whilst studying, Sally works part-time at a call centre. Customers call Sally when their pay TV is not working. Sally’s job is to then assign that job to a technician.

When assigning jobs, Sally must consider the area in which the technician works, the number of current jobs the technician has, and the level of loyalty of the customer.

After the job has been completed, Sally must then phone the customer to ensure that they are happy with the service provided by the technician.

How can Sally sell this experience to a potential employer?

Selling Sally’s role

When assigning jobs to technicians, Sally must balance a number of competing priorities:

  • looking after long-standing clients;
  • reducing the time technicians spend driving between jobs; and
  • maintaining the quality of the company’s service.

To balance these, Sally must be able to:

  • take initiative, by responding to the problem;
  • think on her feet, to solve the problem quickly;
  • think outside the box, to see if there are other ways to solve the problem;
  • liaise with colleagues and stakeholders, to ensure everyone is working together towards the same solution; and
  • prioritise, to work out which problem should be solved first.

By selling her call-centre experience in this way, Sally can prove to a potential employer, with a real-life concrete example, that she is a quick-thinking and adaptable problem-solver, who can take initiative and juggle many things at once.

About the author:
Stephanie Burn is a Director of uGrad Interviewing. uGrad Interviewing offer tailored interviewing training, and CV and cover letter writing services to help graduates stand out.