Any experience is a good experience, but if you use your work experience opportunities in the right way, you can maximize your chances of landing your dream job.
Let's set the scene. You're a sixth-form student with aspirations of being a degree apprentice. You've landed an open day at one of your dream firms, and you hope to apply to their apprenticeship programme at the end of the year.
How do you make your application stand out? How do you demonstrate yourself as a perfect employee? You can find the answers to both of these questions if you set yourself up in the right way to maximise your work experience.
Making a lasting impression is key to establishing yourself.
First of all, it's so important to make sure the people who are running the open day remember you. As 9 times out of 10, the Future Talent/Graduate Talent people who are running these events are likely the people who will ultimately ready your application in the first instance, then interview you and then offer you that dream apprenticeship.
It cannot be overstated enough how important it is that you make yourself known and make a good Impression. Before you attend the event, do your research (as lawyers would say, do your company's due diligence). You need to know the ins and outs of that company: where they operate; what kind of law they practise in (or equivalent); where they have their offices; what the company aims to do in the coming years; what opportunities they offer etc.
Knowing these things will ensure that you can ask the right questions, have confidence in what you are saying and impress HR with your company knowledge. Researching recent news, events and articles by your practice group will allow you to contribute to conversations within the group and show interest on your part.
By asking questions which may have arisen from said research, you are demonstrating skills which are expected of an employee. It further shows your eagerness to learn. In addition, by being confident and charismatic, you will come off as more approachable and likeable.
In order to utilise your work experience, it is important to reflect on what you want out of it. By doing so, you can prepare questions which can be asked during your time at the firm.
If you are interested in the degree apprenticeship scheme, asking questions regarding the process will enable you to tailor your application to their preference.
This opportunity will allow you to communicate with people who are part of the recruitment team and those who have been through the application process. It will further consolidate that a degree apprenticeship with your dream employer is the route you would like to take.
Look at your work experience and identify the skills that are transferable to other jobs or industries. For example, if you worked in customer service, you likely have skills in communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for by highlighting the skills and experiences that are relevant to the job. Use keywords from the job description to optimise your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
Networking is a great way to learn about job opportunities and get referrals. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and connect with people in your field on LinkedIn.
Taking courses or obtaining certifications in a relevant field can help you stand out from other candidates and increase your employment prospects.
Use your work experience to demonstrate your accomplishments and contributions to your previous employers. Use numbers and statistics to quantify your successes.
Don't wait for job opportunities to come to you. Take the initiative to reach out to companies you're interested in working for and inquire about job openings.
Contract or freelance work can be a great way to gain experience and build your network, which can lead to full-time employment opportunities.
Volunteering can provide valuable experience, help you build your network, and show potential employers that you are committed to your field.
Creating a strong CV and LinkedIn will allow you to promote yourself successfully. A common mistake made by students applying to grad schemes and apprenticeship programmes is that they do not make the most of their experiences and do not properly explain what skills they gained from it and how they gained those skills.
It is paramount to exhibit the skills you have learnt through your work experience. How did you acquire those skills, and how will they benefit you in your career?
If you simply say: "Work experience with Big Pants Law Firm LLP: Spent a day with the Corporate Finance team and learnt about M&A deals", you are not making the most of this experience!
You need to link the skills that you say you have to an example (so they know you're not just saying you have that skill) and link it to your experience. Something like is explained how you gained or developed your skill and uses your fancy law firm experience to prove it:
"During my placement at Big Pants Law Firm LLP, I spent time with the Corporate Finance team, during which I gained insight into the process of an M&A transition. Here I was able to develop not only my understanding of this area of law but also my teamwork skill.
The firm challenged us to create a pitch for the firm to act on a deal, and as a group had to present this pitch to partners who acted as potential clients. Having to work to tight deadlines and in a team of new people, I strengthened my ability to work in pressured situations and work in big teams".
Ensure that you write about your work experience on LinkedIn. This will allow greater interaction between professionals and firms. By doing so, you can build a network platform where further information and opportunities can arise.
Authored by Jake Saville and Ananastasia Marsh, Solicitor Apprentices at Stephenson Harwood LLP.
Contact Anastasia Marsh: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anastasia-marsh-45841b224/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The best way to showcase your work experience on a resume is by highlighting your accomplishments and quantifiable results. Use action verbs to describe your responsibilities and focus on how you added value to the company or organisation.
You can use your work experience to stand out in a job interview by sharing specific examples of how you contributed to the success of previous employers. Be prepared to discuss the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and what you learned in the process.
It's not necessary to include all of your work experience on your resume, especially if it's not relevant to the job you're applying for. Focus on highlighting experiences that demonstrate skills and qualifications that align with the position.