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How to land your first job with no work experience

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 14 Jun 2019

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Sometimes the most daunting part of your early career can be leaving education with no work experience. Work experience just isn’t possible for all students, there can be several factors that can affect your ability to get valuable work experience in your chosen field of study. Whether you are too busy with studies, cannot find a suited work experience (they are limited) or you have to work part-time as well as studying, it can be difficult to decide where to start. However, it is possible to land your first professional role without work experience. You must highlight all the things you are good at and things that you can give the company offering the role. Here are a few tips to help you start your job search and get things rolling.

Acknowledge you are going to need qualifications

In some industries it may be possible to start from the bottom and work your way up, without any form of qualifications. Engineering is a little different. Depending on the sector that you are interested in, you will need some form of education. – More likely a degree level of education. Whether that be from higher education or through an apprenticeship, you need a base to start from. There may be some things that you can learn on the job, but engineers tend to be very passionate about their fields, so some background with the sector would be better than none. Just because you may lack work experience, doesn’t mean you can lack knowledge. Engineering can be a very hands-on job and some people learn better with hands-on experiences. It’s not all about experience, you should also share your willingness to learn.

Tailor your applications

Some hiring managers look directly for work experience on your CV. When you are completing, what may seem like, application after application, give a little bit extra. You can tailor your CV, cover letter and overall job application to suit the job itself. Over time this will require a lot more work, rather than just submitting an already made CV. But, if you are highlighting that you are interested in that job, rather than just the sector as a whole, you are more likely to be shortlisted for an interview. Take the time to read each job brief thoroughly and point out the aspects you think you would be good at in your application. If you can connect the skills you already have to the skills they are looking for, you have a much better chance.  It can be vital to tailor your applications at the beginning of you career, so try and not steer away from this idea, just because it takes a bit more time.


Go out and talk to people. Get your name out there and get people to talk about you. Show your passion and talk about your interests. If you are unemployed, you may have the time to attend events. So, keep alert and stay aware of what is happening in your industry. If you stay on top and get invited to an interview, you can talk about the experiences you have had at these events as well as educational experience. Networking shows passion, getting up and doing something about your current employment situation shows initiative and that is what employers want. You can also learn a lot from people that you meet at these events. People that attend networking events are often very happy to share tips and give advice, so it is worth going.

Get into a routine

When you begin your job-search make sure you are giving yourself plenty of time to do it efficiently and effectively. Treat it like a full-time occupation, if you are always on alert then you won’t miss out on an opportunity. After university, it can be easy to slip back into bad habits. Try and prioritise your time and plan well, so you still get all the sleep you need, whilst ticking other things off your to-do list. Getting used to doing something everyday can get you into a very useful routine. You may feel like you want to stay inside all day but make sure you are still getting out. Even though you may be unemployed but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for you to do. Get regular exercise (yes this can include walking the dog) socialise and try to attend industry events if you can. You should invest time in keeping your physical and mental wellbeing healthy. If you do prefer to stay inside when you are searching for work, it can be good practice to get ready and dressed in the morning, as if you were getting ready for a day of work. It prepares you for the day. You are more likely to get into the correct mindset and work better. You should give what you expect to get out of your job-search. If you put hours of work into your search, then you can expect results and having that secure routine can help you achieve your goals.

Highlight the skills you have

When you are writing a CV with lack of or no work experience, it is crucial that you present your skills properly. It’s good to focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t have. Just because there is no industry experience on the CV, this definitely does not mean that there is nothing worthy on there. But presentation can be everything. It can be good to put the skills section of your CV at the top, under your personal statement. Then it makes it one of the first things the employer will see when reading your CV. But it must have relevant content. When reading the job spec, make sure you highlight any skills they want, that you have. Make these skills the most prominent and you may get the interview you want.

The interview

Once you have bagged yourself an interview, which you will, make sure you do the right amount of preparation. This can sometimes be tricky, you don’t want to slack but you don’t want to be over the top and worry yourself by focusing on interview preparation too much. Preparing some answers to typical interview questions can stop you worrying a little. There are some questions that they will ask, and you won’t think of before hand, so just do your research and do your best. Interviews can become easier overtime and your first one can be a little daunting. When you attend an interview, there are more things to talk about than just your work experience, so don’t worry about this. You can apply real-life situations to answers and they will just be happy you answered the question instead of saying ‘I haven’t had any work experience’. They want to know about you as an individual as well, so take it in your stride and think of some scenarios before your interview.

Landing your first job after education is never easy, but just know that it is not impossible. Everyone needs to start somewhere and as long as you set yourself goals and work well towards them, you can achieve anything. Stick by these tips and do your job-search your way and you will be able to get your first job. Although work experience is sought after by employers, there are many other factors that are just as important for you to get hired.