After spending more than 13+ years in education, going into the real world I realised that your grades aren’t exactly the guarantee you need when it comes to being offered a job, internship or work experience. This blog post will be tackling how to make your application stand out when applying for jobs. It goes without saying that your grades do contribute towards the steps needed when applying for jobs, however they’re not the be all and end all of how likely you are to be offered one.
My first job was at TkMaxx. Working in retail produced in me a lot of hard work, dedication and tenacity. I also developed skills in communication, teamwork, having an interpersonal personality and the ability to work under pressure. However, I knew that (after more than a year’s worth of work), I needed to receive actual experience in the industry I hope to work in. I had no knowledge of the industry I aspired to work in, nor did I know anybody in my family who worked in that type of industry. It can be difficult trying to go for your dream career when you have no connections.
It started in Year 12 when I applied for Hogan Lovells’ Ladder to Law Programme which targeted mainly BAME students from a low socioeconomic background. For more than a year and a half, I had been able to gain hands-on and practical experience working in a law firm, the importance of commercial awareness and the power of networking. Thankfully, the skills I developed working in retail transferred when undergoing this work experience. I also had the opportunity in Year 13 to attend work experiences and insight days hosted by firms such as Norton Rose Fulbright, Goldman Sachs and Mazars.
When applying for jobs, internships and work experience, it’s crucial to ask yourself what you would like to get out of it. Seeing as I’m interested in the legal field, I still gave myself the opportunity to attend events hosted by firms specialising in finance. That being said, the world is your oyster - take every opportunity that is given to you!
Despite the process being straightforward, I know first-hand that they can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing. The application process can go like this: submitting your online application, completing any competency-based tests, telephone interview, virtual interview and, finally, an assessment centre. Then the cycle repeats if you are unsuccessful, but that’s totally normal. Rejection is redirection.
However, when you do find yourself in that repetitive cycle of applications, the best thing you can do to ensure that you secure that job, internships or work experience is to ask for feedback. Asking for help is totally normal. You shouldn’t have to feel bad for doing something that will benefit your future.
Let it be known that LinkedIn is your best friend when it comes to applications. This is because you can request to connect with people who have either completed an internship or are working in the sector you want to specialise in, and you can ask them for advice on how to draft an application.
Don’t be like me and create a LinkedIn account late into the year. Obviously, it’s better late than never, but you don’t want to miss any deadlines and a helping hand. LinkedIn is essential to getting yourself out there, building your professional network and optimising your skills.
If you are in need of forming connections, you can always request to connect with me on LinkedIn - Abigail Wonga.
Finally, my last tip would be to keep on applying. If you get rejected, keep on applying. If you don’t hear anything back from the employer (which at times you won’t), keep on applying.
Applications at this stage are pivotal towards your student life and early career development. Should you have any troubles with applications, please take these tips into consideration and as guidance.