Students and Graduates: Be proud of your work experience

Over the years I have spoken with thousands of students and graduates about employment, and found that a surprising number have deliberately left pieces of non-vocational work off their CVs and Step profiles.

This ranges from one who worked in a fast-food restaurant while studying and felt it would be looked down on by graduate employers (if it was then maybe those employers are not worth working for), to many who felt that the work was not relevant to their career plans and didn’t need to be listed.

This always makes me feel a bit sad.

While it is a definite advantage to do some vocational related work, particularly for a lot of specialist careers, there are many, many reasons why non-vocational work is beneficial, and it is something that you should be proud of having done.

There is also a lot you can draw on when making applications, particularly if you have not been able to get any experience related to your degree.

When it comes time to apply for internships, sandwich placements and then permanent roles you will often be asked situational or competency-based questions; basically, giving an example of where you have done something related to skills or tasks listed in the job description.

Before I went to University I managed a very busy betting shop and employed a lot of undergraduates in part-time jobs. They were serving customers and were later able to draw on this experience to give competency-based examples including: working under pressure and to deadlines, teamwork, handling difficult situations, responsibility, managing multiple tasks, communication, numeracy, and more.

It was always great to see how many grew in confidence and became valuable members of the team; and as part of the bigger picture they showed they could hold down a job in a commercial environment, and were able to get an all-important reference.

It could be anything from a paper round, to work in a shop or restaurant, or perhaps voluntary work- be proud of what have done, get it on your CV and make sure you draw on it for applications and interviews.

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