Evidence shows that the most important factor in improving your employment chances is completing a placement year or accumulating a significant amount of other work experience. In fact, a lack of work experience is the biggest barrier to your ambition of securing your graduate job. So just in case you’re not convinced, here are some reasons why employers want you to get some work experience under your belt before you come knocking at their door:
- Skills Development. Work experience is about developing skills, particularly employability skills like working as part of a team, communicating clearly with clients and work mates, thinking analytical & critically, solving problems, being commercially aware and being able to manage & motivation yourself.
- It’s important to know and understand what your working environment is going to be like. You will spend a significant part of your day there, so you need to understand what’s expected of you and how it operates if you are going to enjoy what you do and be successful!
- Helps build your contacts. Getting work experience is a brilliant opportunity to make contacts for future clients (and jobs).
- Business acumen and commercial awareness. Employers often state that having an understanding and experience in this area will put you head and shoulders above the competition. Work experience is one of main ways this can be gained (read our previous blog on commercial awareness) .
- Putting theory into practice. Try and get some work experience that is directly relevant to your course, this will help you see how the theory you have learnt works in practice. It will also boost your confidence and increase your understanding when you return to your studies.
As an added extra you will also get:
- Money. Most work experience, certainly that of a significant length, is paid, which has obvious benefits.
- Help with your career planning. Getting some work experience under your belt can help you make informed choices about your future– even if it is simply ruling things out (every cloud and all that …).
So how can you secure this all important work experience? We have all been taught to write CVs, but whilst this advice on its own may have been enough to secure a job in the boom times it will never make you stand out in a very slowly recovering recession. You need to add value. Bear in mind that blogging, Student Surveyor and Twitter can help you target employers, add value to your CV and demonstrate a level of expertise. Increasingly employers are not even advertising jobs in traditional media – they just put the positions out on Twitter and Social Media. So if you haven’t even signed up, how are they going to spot them? If you don’t already have a Student Surveyor account you can register here.
If you are trying to find a job, placement or work experience in the current market, make sure you:
1. Demonstrate your passion and commitment to the job you want to do
We are at an advantage we are not going from history degree to PR executive, but we still need to demonstrate an understanding of our industry and build up our skills – and with social media this isn’t a major task. You need to prove to potential employers, that your desire to build a career in the built environment isn’t just a whim. You need to prove you are serious.
2. Start writing a blog
The great thing about writing a blog is you can demonstrate your understanding and expertise in a market at no cost at all. You can do all this by using the ‘My Articles’ tab on your student surveyor profile page. If we take surveying as an example, the blogs could cover
– Reviews of built environment books
– An analysis of newspaper articles in a week – how much is real estate an issue?
– Review of real estate blogs and pull out the key tips that you think will be the most useful for your potential audience
– Your top ten best Real Estate blogs
Don’t worry that your blog will seem too simplistic to an experienced Real Estate professional, no-one expects you to be a expert. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, follow the examples above and you will be able to show that you have the ability to read around a subject, analyse it and come up with your own views. Above all it demonstrates your passion and commitment for your future career. Get them published on Student Surveyor and all these articles are things you can add to your CV.
3. Sign up to Twitter
Twitter isn’t just about what the nation has just watched on TV, there are some really interesting conversations taking place. Not only is this a great resource if you are looking to quickly become expert on the current real estate topics but there is a blog in each one of these tweets.
4. Follow key people on Twitter
It is really easy to identify and target key people on Twitter. Pre social media it would have been impossible to targeted an HR director. You probably would never have got beyond the receptionist or PA. But now you can engage with them, as long as you do this subtly. Follow them, learn from them, find out what they think matters by reading their tweets. When you’re ready: engage. Get yourself noticed by re-tweeting some of their tweets, send links to interesting articles, answer a question if they ask for views. Perhaps do a blog that might interest them and tweet about it. But do make sure you strike a balance – engage on Twitter to produce results, not irritate.
Even staffing a charity shop will give some experience and something for a CV. Charities are short of funding and people, this can be a good way to get work experience.
7. Network to get jobs
This is the skill that is the most useful but equally it is also the one that is the hardest to achieve, especially when you are a student – you need to understand that networking means you have to be helpful and useful to someone first, not just expect favours.
8. Be enterprising
This could be a whole blog on its own. It is a skill you must develop – look at a business, people you know and think: what could I do to help them? Present solutions for free – and make them see the value of you as a person and eventually this could lead to offers of an introduction and maybe even a job.
What ever happens:
Remain fiercely ambitious. Do not let your confidence evaporate, don’t beat yourself up when you get rejected, just stay focused and it will work out. Even in a recession, the world is full of opportunities for the ambitious.
Don’t think you’re anything special. The fact is, right now, you’re not. Chances are you’re just another completely inexperienced twenty something who doesn’t have all that much to offer … yet. You can become top dog, but the weird thing about careers is that they’re actually quite hard. Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build but don’t panic even the most successful people were rarely doing anything that great in their early to mid-twenties.
Ignore how everyone else is doing. The grass has always look greener on the other side, but in today’s image enhancing world, other people’s grass looks like the Wembley Stadium pitch. Social media creates a world where what everyone else is doing is out in the open, but remember most people tend only to broadcast their successes and often present a very inflated version of events, leaving you wrongly feeling that everyone, apart from you, is doing really well. Never compare yourself, the truth is that almost everyone else is just as indecisive, racked with doubt, and frustrated as you are, and if you just get on and focus on sorting out your own career, you’ll never have any reason to envy others.